Maine Group Pushing for Medicaid Expansion Submits Signatures

Jan 25, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine - The group attempting to expand MaineCare health coverage to roughly 70,000 Mainers has submitted signatures to put the issue before voters in November.

Mainers for Health Care says it has collected more than 67,000 signatures to expand MaineCare, Maine's version of Medicaid.

Medicaid expansion has been offered under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Thirty states have expanded coverage, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage and most Republicans in the Legislature have blocked such efforts here nearly a half-dozen times.

Robyn Merrill, of Maine Equal Justice Partners, says it's time for Maine voters to weigh in. "There is no time to spare. People's lives are on the line due to the lack of affordable health care and they need relief now."

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry says Medicaid expanion will help with the Maine's opioid crisis by expanding access to treatment.

"In the end this will save taxpayers money and it will saves lives, for which we cannot measure in dollars and cents," Merry says.

The initiative comes as the Republican-controlled Congress attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. That has left questions about whether the ballot initiative will be moot if voters approve it. Merrill says that while the fate of the health care law is uncertain, low income Mainers' need for coverage isn't.

Medicaid expansion has been offered under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Thirty-states have expanded coverage, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage and most Republicans in the Legislature have blocked such efforts here nearly a half dozen times. Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry says Medicaid expanion will help with the Maine's opioid crisis by expanding access to treatment.

.{"In the end this will save taxpayers money and it will saves lives, for which we cannot measure in dollars and cents," Merry says.}

The initiative comes as the Republican controlled Congress attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. That has left questions about whether the ballot initiative will be moot if voters approve it. But supporters of the initiative say that while the fate of the health care law is uncertain, low income Mainers' need for coverage isn't.

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