Maine needs high-risk pool

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John Henderson charged that changes to Maine’s insurance market that Rep. McKane and the Republicans have proposed would leave Maine people and businesses worse off (May 15).

Here’s the truth.

Mainers pay the second-highest health premiums in the U.S. because of two mandates from 1993: “guaranteed-issue” and “community-rating.” Most states eliminated them because they wrecked the insurance markets. After these “reforms,” insurers fled Maine, leaving us with a monopoly controlled by Anthem.

Recently, the Maine House passed a bill to establish a high-risk pool for Maine, which would have dramatically reduced our premiums. Unfortunately, the Democrat president of the Senate killed the bill, barring the Senate from even discussing it.

Why Maine Democrats fear high-risk pools and lower premiums is unclear. It isn’t because high-risk pools are partisan or controversial; a federal-funding proposal for high-risk pools passed both the U.S. Senate and House unanimously. It is not a Republican idea; it is a pro-consumer idea embraced nationwide. Democrat Sen. Max Baucus (Montana) said he wants federal assistance for high-risk pools extended to all 50 states.

Mainers are paying millions of dollars every year unnecessarily. Most other states have rational systems where customers pay much less than we do for identical, or better, coverage. Insurance is virtually unaffordable here.

Republicans know exactly how to lower the rates: follow the nonpartisan models of other states.

Democrats here seem content with a system that kills jobs and punishes working people.

Rep. Michael Vaughan, Durham

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