If only all of our politics were such a joyous celebration of heritage and culture. Olivia did a great job playing the reels and waltzes. I need more practice.
The House rolls on with our Governor pressuring the legislature to not accept federal dollars for health care that we are paying for in US taxes. I hear no one complaining about accepting federal dollars for highways, for sewer upgrades, for defense, for education, for agriculture. But when it comes to our health, prevention of death, they say we won't accept the dollars we have already paid. Incredible.
10 years ago we would not talk about sea level rise because it would distract us from the conversation that we must lessen carbon emissions immediately. Now we are up the creek or the creek is up us and we will see the effects for centuries. Maybe we can learn from the Dutch at this conference who have been keeping out the sea for a long time. Meanwhile, coastal cities and communities throughout the world are in jeopardy. Believe Cassandra.
Bill to ensure access to local health care moves forward
AUGUSTA – Legislation that would require the Maine Bureau of Insurance to clearly specify the criteria used when they evaluate insurance company proposals earned a positive vote Thursday from the Insurance and Financial Services Committee.
The committee voted to recommend two slightly different versions of the bill to the entire Legislature to decide how to clarify the application criteria and whether insurers should be required to clearly disclose the network of providers available in the plans.
Reps. Bobbi Beavers, D-South Berwick, Paul McGowan, D-York, and Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, along with other York County legislators, urged this legislation forward after York Hospital was left off of the in-network hospital list in an application submitted by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in August. Once approved by the bureau, anyone purchasing that plan would not be able to use that hospital for care.
“This arbitrary review process resulted in a network including 32 of 38 Maine hospitals,” McGowan said. “While other hospitals in southern Maine are included, York Hospital is not. This is problematic for the residents in the most southern part of York County.”
The lawmakers noted that the bureau sent out a bulletin recently warning consumers that they should check whether or not their provider or hospital of choice are part of the plan’s network, before finalizing their purchase.
“When a consumer is buying health insurance, they are concerned with price,” McGowan. “Who would think that their local hospital would not be on the list?”
Local lawmakers testified that York Hospital is one of the area’s largest employers and provides first-rate preventative, emergency and long-term care through the hospital and their satellite facilities.
“Our concern is for the health care consumers in the very southern Maine area who may have to switch physicians and travel out-of-town for procedures,” Rykerson said. “This narrow network could also have a significant negative impact on the financial viability of this very critical health care provider and our communities.”
The group is pushing for more scrutiny in the review process by clarifying the criteria under which the plans are evaluated.
“Transparency is needed here,” said Beavers. “The criteria must be fair and applicants should know what they will be judged on. The six hospitals left off of the list should know why. And the people purchasing these plans should know if they can access their provider of choice.”
The bill will now be considered by the full House and Senate.
The Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee heard a bill to 'raise the bar' when a large utility is sold so that residents have more assurances of service. Essentially, this makes companies more accountable to Main Street instead of Wall Street. The IBEW strongly supports this bill as do I.
On the floor today, we spent many hours debating a bill that would stop legislators pay in the case of a government shutdown. I voted for this but the bill was indefinitely postponed. Wind bill 616 will be coming up soon.
I have spent the fall and winter visiting the potato fields, forests, researchers, and startups to see where our economy can be headed. I am convinced that with enough interaction, enough recognition, our state can lead the way in a clean energy economy. From tidal power, to solar, to wind and biomass, we have the natural and human resources to more than supply New England with its energy needs. But a kickstart is needed and, working with my position on the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee, I am looking at all the ways we can get the future going in the State of Maine.
Mr. Speaker and Ladies and Gentlemen of the House
Nearly 50 years ago, the worst submarine disaster in history occurred in the Gulf of Maine.
The USS Thresher, built in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine was the most advanced naval vessel of its day.
On April 10, 1963, the Thresher took its last dive and 129 men, many from Maine and with connections to Maine perished in service of their country.
The tragedy resulted in the SUBSAFE safety program to ensure that this disaster will never be repeated.
The memory of that loss lives on in our community and in order to always maintain that memory, the citizens of Kittery are dedicating a permanent memorial to the sacrifice of those lives.
We invite every person in this chamber to the dedication of this Memorial on April 7 in Kittery, Maine to commemorate this tragic event in our nation's history.
Today, in the Gallery we have present some members of the families who lost their loved ones in their sacrifice to our country.
On February 21 the House overwhelmingly voted for a supplemental budget. I supported an amendment that would place a surcharge on the state income taxes of the wealthiest Maine residents. This would be an average of about $300 after they receiving a tax cut of about $3,000. The amendment didn't pass, but the budget did restore some of the most onerous of the budget cuts recommended by the Governor. He will not sign this bill, but it will go into effect ten days after reaching his desk.
On Monday, I will testify to the Taxation Committee about my bill to have a state sales tax holiday for the month of January, allowing Mainers to buy necessities in the month when there are the least number of tourists paying sales tax.