AUGUSTA (AP) – A state advisory council took public comments Friday on proposed components of a new state health plan that declares “more spending does not necessarily translate into improved health.”

The draft plan, put forth by Gov. John Baldacci’s Office of Health Policy and Finance, also asserts that “more spending does not necessarily translate into adequate access, either.”

The draft plan notes that more than one in eight Mainers under the age of 65 are uninsured, “despite the fact that most in this group work and work full time.”

As part of Maine’s Dirigo Health Reform Act, the establishment of a state health plan is aimed at coordinating health care resources. The plan is to lay out standards to help control health care costs, improve the quality of care and ensure access to health care services, according to the Baldacci administration.

Officials said the act calls for biennial plans but that the first effort would be to develop a one-year transitional blueprint.

The draft plan says health care spending in Maine in 1999 was estimated at $4.7 billion, amounting to 13.8 percent of the gross state product, and will increase to an estimated $6.9 billion, or 16 percent of gross state product, in 2004.

“If left unchecked, health care spending will continue to consume a greater and greater share of Maine’s resources and exact an increasingly heavy toll on the budgets of working families and businesses large and small,” the report says.

The focus on spending drew notice from the Maine Hospital Association.

“Two important assumptions are made at the beginning of the State Health Plan that set the tone for the entire plan. The assumptions are that health care expenditures should be measured as a percent of the Gross State Product and that, because Maine is a poor state, we should spend proportionally less on health care than other, more affluent states,” association Vice President David Winslow said in prepared remarks.

“Maine is a poor state, but is also an old and sick state,” Winslow said.

Written comments to the Advisory Council on Health Systems Development will accepted through the governor’s health policy and finance office through Tuesday.

AP-ES-06-04-04 1626EDT

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