By: Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy AnalystPosted on March 13, 2013

We continue to watch Governors and state legislators across the country as they make a crucial decision that will have an enormous impact on women and families.

Under the new federal health care law, women and families in Maine who are currently uninsured could get affordable health coverage starting next year. That’s because the law includes money to cover more people through Medicaid. Right now, Maine has an important decision to make—accept federal dollars that have been allocated to cover uninsured individuals through Medicaid or turn down the money and leave them uninsured. If Maine accepts the federal funds to cover more people, not only will it improve women’s health and dramatically reduce the number of uninsured, it will also ensure a smarter use of health care dollars.

A recently released study backs this up! Yesterday researchers from Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Maine Center for Economic Policy released a comprehensive study on this opportunity. Their findings show that accepting federal funds to expand health coverage means thousands of Mainers will receive affordable comprehensive health coverage, and the state will also benefit through a boost to the state economy.

The study found that by accepting the federal money Maine could:

  • Provide health coverage to as many as 69,500 uninsured people in Maine, the majority of whom have jobs but not health coverage
  • Dramatically increase health coverage in rural areas. In one county, over 13% of residents could gain health coverage.
  • Stimulate the economy through over $350 million in economic activity, bringing in more than $250 million of additional federal funding into Maine’s economy annually

There is so much at stake in this debate.

If all states accept the federal money, an additional 7 million women will be able to get preventive health screenings, birth control, check-ups and the care they need to manage chronic health conditions. In addition to increasing access to health care and improving health outcomes, Medicaid increases women’s economic security. But most of all, having health insurance brings peace of mind so that hard-working families have the security of health coverage and can avoid big medical bills.

Governor LePage and state legislators must come together and agree that covering more women and families is the right thing to do, is a good deal for Maine, and makes a lot of sense (and cents!).