In Support Of
L.D. 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”

Senator Craven, Representative Farnsworth and esteemed members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. My name is Justin Alfond. I am a resident of Portland, and I am proud to serve as President of the Maine Senate and honored to represent Senate District 8 which includes most of Portland and the islands of Peaks, Cliff and Great Diamond. Today, I am pleased to appear before you as a co-sponsor of L.D. 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”

I will be brief with my remarks because there are many people here that will be speaking to the details of Maine’s role in accepting federal dollars for health care coverage. However, I want to make two points.

First, accepting federal dollars for the people of Maine is the right thing to do. Right now, we have a unique opportunity to provide health insurance–at no cost–to more than 50,000 of our friends and neighbors. Think about the immediate impact that will have. Perhaps most importantly, is the impact this will have on people’s lives. Folks can get the health care they need based on medical and health decisions, not whether or not they can afford it.

Tens of thousands of Mainers that rely on the emergency room or free clinics for care will be covered. Tens of thousands of Mainers who delay getting the treatment they need because they don’t have insurance will be covered. And tens of thousands of our neighbors that don’t have access to affordable basic care when they need it will now be covered.

We can do this today. We can’t turn our backs on our neighbors–and what it will mean to their daily lives, their health, their well-being.

Second, let’s talk numbers. The deal that the federal government is offering Maine is sound. And, it will help our state’s financial situation. At first glance, the numbers are staggering: The $256 million in new health health care spending will generate more than $350 million in economic activity.

But again, accessing federal funds makes financial sense. It’s a good deal because, at no cost to our state, more Mainers will have health insurance, it will drive down our overall health care costs and benefit our hospitals by lowering the amount of charity care they provide without reimbursement.

If we don’t accept federal dollars for this year, we will have lost an amazing opportunity to expand access to healthcare for more than 50,000 Mainers at no cost to the state for an entire year. We have a responsibility to them–and to our state’s coffers to accept this.

I encourage the committee to complete your analysis and make sure this makes financial sense for Maine. I believe it does. I am also encouraged by the Chief Executive pursuing the strongest deal for our state.

The choice before us is simple and clear: we can fundamentally change the lives of tens of thousands of our friends and neighbors, or we can look the other way AND deny them the care they need. Today, I could not more strongly urge this committee to unanimously approve this measure and help our neighbors thrive and be healthy. Thank you.