Maine House approves sweeping health insurance overhaul bill

Kevin Miller
Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — House lawmakers voted Tuesday to pass a sweeping and controversial health insurance overhaul bill that supporters say will lower rates through competition but critics warn could lead to costlier, less-accessible care for many Mainers.

The House voted 79-68 largely along party lines to approve the bill, sending it to the state Senate, where a lengthy and contentious debate is expected.

LD 1333 would allow Maine residents and businesses to purchase insurance from companies in other states and would allow small businesses to band together to purchase insurance. It also creates a high-risk pool subsidized by a $4-per-month fee charged to all policy holders.

But the bill would make other significant policy changes that Democrats predict could drive up insurance rates for older Mainers and those living in more rural areas or lead to fewer insurance options for those living in northern or Down East Maine…

…The Senate could take up the issue on Wednesday, although the outcome is not expected to be different due to Republicans’ wider majority in that chamber. Republican Gov. Paul LePage supports the bill.

Maine’s health care overhaul comes at a time when states are preparing to implement the sweeping federal changes passed by Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. Maine Attorney General William Schneider, a former Republican lawmaker, is party to a multi-state lawsuit contesting the federal health care law…

Read the complete article at the Bangor Daily News.

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