MaineCare expansion is vital for more than 70,000 Mainers, keeping them healthy and productive. It is also crucial to the 65 locations in Maine where community health centers, such as the B Street Health Center in Lewiston, provide care to more than 200,000 Mainers, regardless of their ability to pay.

In 2011, Maine community health centers provided care to nearly 20 percent of the MaineCare population, while accounting for only 1.5 percent of total Medicaid expenditures. Fair reimbursement from the Medicaid program is essential to the financial viability of community health centers. Many have already felt the crunch due to the thousands of Mainers who have already lost their MaineCare. Furthermore, people without coverage often do not seek care, and cannot access needed treatments or medications. That ultimately leads to sicker patients and needless deaths.

Community health centers put patients first. These individuals serve on our governing and patient advisory boards. We provide high quality, holistic health care and are local leaders in the innovation of health care delivery, seeking to improve quality and patient experience as well as decrease costs. We strengthen the state’s economy by employing nearly 2,000 staff, contribute $200 million to the economy each year and bring nearly $25 million per year to the state to ensure that necessary health care services are provided to our patients.

I strongly encourage the Androscoggin County legislature delegation to put partisan politics aside and do what is right and moral and what makes financial sense: Vote to expand MaineCare.

Jim Lysen, Lewiston

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