On Wednesday, the Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on two bills to expand access to healthcare. The Legislature has voted three times to accept the federal government’s deal to expand healthcare to 70,000 Mainers, and I have proudly voted in the affirmative each time.

Two weeks ago, 25,000 people statewide lost their health insurance. That’s more than the entire population of the City of Auburn. We have it within our power to fix this problem immediately and expand access to health care for another 45,000 Mainers by accepting the federal government’s deal.

As of today, the state has already lost $9.8 million, and we’ll lose another $700,000 today and every day until we accept federal funds to expand. According to a Harvard Study, and this is the most sobering fact for the committee to consider, we could save nearly 400 lives a year through expanding health care. Four-hundred more of our friends’ and neighbors’ lives will be saved if we take this step. Increasing access to health care is the right economic move for Maine and a proposal rooted deep in our values as Mainers.

I am hopeful that our colleagues across the aisle will work with us to find a way to accept this offer.