Health Reform is Making History – But Maine is Slipping Behind

History is happening: the percent of Americans without health coverage is the lowest it’s been since the 1990s. Medicare costs are declining – not just slowing – making the program more sustainable in the future. Maine’s 2015 marketplace premiums are either flat – or lower than last year. Health reform is working.

I happened across a time capsule this summer, and it brought home for me exactly how huge an impact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had. As all Mainers know, there are camps and cottages across our state, and they usually have stacks of old copies of National Geographic, paperbacks from the 1970s, and other remainders from past visitors. My family camp is no exception. Someone had folded a Bangor Daily News op-ed page from July 2007 and stuffed it neatly in our magazine rack. Taking it out, I read the first editorial, which bemoaned the intractable rise in health costs with no end in sight. The writer said, “The best way to take on the rising cost of healthcare would be national, wide-scale health reform – but that looks unlikely to happen any time in the near future.”

What a difference seven years makes. Health reform did happen within two years of that editorial, and that dour editorialist could never have foreseen what the results have been:

The uninsured rate has declined significantly – and most significantly for young adults.

Overall, the uninsured rate declined from 2013 to early 2014. The most significant decrease was among young adults aged 19-25. In 2013, 26.5 percent of young adults were uninsured; by the first three months of 2014, that number had dropped to 20 percent. This is partly attributable to the ACA’s popular provision that allows parents to keep their college-age children on their policies, and partly a function of the insurance exchanges, which experienced an uptick in young adult enrollment toward the end of the enrollment period.

Medicare costs per-user are down – and not due to roughshod cuts or privatization.

As the baby boom generation ages, Medicare costs have strained the federal budget. It’s worth recalling that opponents of the ACA have their own proposal to reduce federal Medicare costs: end Medicare as we know it in favor of a privatized voucher system. That hasn’t come to pass, but in the meantime, the successful aspects of the ACA have lowered Medicare costs by eliminating fraud and waste and coordinating patient care. Three years ago, Medicare spent $12,000 per person. Now it spends $11,200, and analysts project that cost will keep declining. The 10-year savings connected to this trend amount to $715 billion – making the ACA’s Medicare reforms a champion among deficit-reduction initiatives.

Despite opponents’ dire predictions, enrollment in marketplace plans exceeded expectations.

Despite predictions that the plans would be too expensive, that the uninsured did not want to buy health insurance, and that the unwieldy website would doom the ACA marketplace, people flocked to sign up for coverage in the last months of the enrollment period. In the end, more than seven million people purchased insurance through the marketplace. Twenty-two states exceeded their enrollment goals – some by more than 160 percent.

And (again despite naysayers’ predictions), 2015 marketplace premiums did not skyrocket.

Once marketplace enrollment was declared a success, the naysayers rolled out a new gremlin from their stockpile of bogeymen. “Get ready for your 2015 Obamacare premiums to double or even triple,” they warned.

2015 rates have not tripled. In Maine, average marketplace premiums will either decrease or remain flat. While premiums vary by state, few exceed double-digit increases – and remember that insurers can no longer charge healthy people less and sick people more, as they did in the bad old days. One of the scariest cases was self-inflicted: one insurer in Florida announced a 17.5 percent hike – but this was due to the concerted effort of ACA opponent Governor Rick Scott, who suspended the legislature’s ability to veto excessive insurance premium hikes.

Will Maine move into the future – or remain trapped in a pre-ACA time capsule?

In a state economy that has struggled with high health costs, this week’s rate announcement is welcome news.  Up to) 44,000 Mainers now receive coverage through the marketplace. Health reform works for Maine – when policymakers let it. Maine’s continued refusal to accepting federal healthcare funds, combined with 2011 cuts to MaineCare, means that our state is moving backward, not forward. Maine and New Jersey are the only two states where the rate of uninsured increased over 2012-2013. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when historically, Maine’s uninsured rate has been among the nation’s lowest.  Health reform has happened, and it’s providing savings and opportunities that were inconceivable as recently as 2007. Let’s not keep Maine stuck in reverse, but start moving in the right direction again.

Maine’s Economic Recovery: Limited job growth, persistent underemployment, and declining incomes

For months, we’ve written about Maine’s anemic economic recovery relative to the rest of the country. Today’s August jobs report does little to change that story. Maine has recovered just 63 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession and still ranks 43rd among all states and Washington, DC in its jobs recovery. By contrast, the US has recovered 110 percent of jobs lost in the recession and New England has recovered 111 percent.

Maine Job Watch 9-19-2014

The headline for today’s jobs data is that Maine’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.6 percent in August from 5.5 percent the month before. In truth, the August figure could just as easily be the same or lower than it was in July. A 0.1 percentage point change in Maine’s unemployment rate from one month to the next is not that statistically meaningful. Longer term trends are what matter. Still, today’s number bucked the trend of declining unemployment which we’ve observed in Maine and across the country for almost four years now. Only time will reveal whether we return to this trend in the coming months or see stagnant or increasing unemployment.

For most Maine people, such statistics have little bearing on their lives as they work hard to provide for themselves and their families. The unemployment figure masks the sad reality that more than 40,000 Mainers face. They want full-time work but can’t find it. Maine has the 6th highest percentage of these “involuntary” part-time workers in the nation. Fifty thousand more Mainers continue to struggle without success to find any work. The bottom line is that Maine’s economy is still not creating enough jobs to go around.

The other elephant in the room is that the jobs that are available don’t necessarily pay enough for Maine families to make ends meet today and invest for their future. Based on data released earlier this week by the US Census Bureau, median household income in Maine in 2013 was $46,974. That’s $2,300 below what it was in 2009 adjusted for inflation.

MHHINC-2013-ACS 9-18-2014

There are plenty of examples of where Maine has left jobs on the table in recent years. The most obvious is the state’s refusal to accept federal funds to provide health care to almost 70,000 Mainers. The state is losing almost $1 million a day in federal funds. More than 250 days into the year, that’s nearly $250 million – more than the economic impact of Maine’s wild blueberry industry or the 2012 payroll of Maine workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Delays in issuing bonds have also cost the state jobs and undermined investments in research and development, roads and bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

We are not destined to slow growth in Maine, but today’s jobs report makes clear we’ve still got a long way to go.

Child poverty fell in 2013, but median household income continues to go nowhere

Child poverty in Maine fell back to pre-recession levels in 2013, but income for the median household and the overall poverty rate saw no improvement, according to annual estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.

Maine has 548,000 households. Half of them have incomes above the median and half have incomes below. The Census Bureau estimates that income of the median household in Maine was $46,974 in 2013, statistically no different than 2012’s figure of $47,330 (adjusted for inflation).  Maine’s median household income is actually $2,300 below what it was in 2009, a statistically significant decline.

MHHINC-2013-ACS 9-18-2014

Median household income is one of the most important indicators of the economic health of everyday working Mainers and their children. That’s why it’s so disheartening to continue to see median household income well below where it was even a decade ago.

There was some good news in today’s data release: the share of Maine’s children—especially very young children—living poverty declined substantially between 2012 and 2013. Poverty among children under 18 fell to 17.0% in 2013 from 20.4% in 2012, while poverty among children under 5 fell to 20.4% from 26.9%. Both changes were statistically significant.

Poverty Rates 9-18-2014The increase in recent years in poverty among Maine children was alarming, so it’s good to see those statistics improve. But make no mistake, poverty among children remains an enormous problem. 1 in 5 young children in Maine live in poverty, according to the latest estimate. Kids who live in poverty are more likely to struggle in school and suffer from poor health and nutrition.

Overall, the decline in children living in poverty wasn’t enough to make a substantial change in the overall poverty rate for the state. It ticked down slightly, but the change wasn’t statistically significant. In other words, to the best of our knowledge Maine’s poverty rate was no different in 2013 than it was in 2012.

Attention: Important Census Data Ahead

Data Ahead 9-12-2014Next week the U.S. Census Bureau will have two major releases that will provide researchers, policymakers, the media, and the public with critically important data on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage nationally and state-by-state. On Tuesday (September 16) the bureau will unveil its Current Population Survey (CPS) and select information about health insurance coverage from its American Community Survey (ACS).  On Thursday (September 18) the bureau will release the full results from the ACS for all states and subnational areas with populations greater than 65,000. The CPS, based on a sample of about 100,000 addresses, is the bureau’s official source of nationwide poverty data. The ACS, a much larger survey encompassing 3 million households, allows for state analysis with a single year’s worth of responses. The ACS is the preferred source for state-level income, poverty, and health insurance coverage data.

MECEP will issue press releases on both the Tuesday and Thursday data releases and augmenting those with posting on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Bonus: And for the real wonks out there, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release state jobs and employment data on Friday (September 19, 2014).

A simple 1-2 punch to give working Mainers a raise

Increasing Maine’s earned income tax credit and raising the state’s minimum wage would go a long way toward making work pay for Maine’s families today and lay the foundation for a stronger economy tomorrow, according to new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

With wages for the typical Maine worker still well below pre-recession levels and no signs of growth in sight, lawmakers should act immediately when they arrive in Augusta in January to deliver a 1-2 punch that will give Maine workers a much-needed raise.

Punch 1: Raise Maine’s minimum wage

Minimum wage EITC 9-5-2014Maine’s minimum wage is $7.50—25 cents higher than the federal minimum but still lower than it was forty years ago, after adjusting for the purchasing power of the dollar. The outgoing legislature passed a bill to increase it incrementally to $9 per hour by 2015 but failed to override Governor LePage’s veto. Next year, Maine lawmakers should follow President Obama’s proposal and raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to rise with inflation. No man or woman who works full-time should live in poverty, and this increase in the minimum wage would ensure that full-time workers earn at least $20,000 per year instead of the $15,000 guaranteed by the current $7.50 minimum.

Don’t believe the baseless argument from minimum wage opponents who claim that only teenagers make the minimum wage so they’d be the only ones getting a raise. Research at the national level has shown that the vast majority of those who would benefit are over age 20. The majority of them are women, and over two-fifths have at least some college education. In fact, a minimum wage increase would actually raise wages for the entire bottom fifth of the wage distribution.

Punch 2: Increase Maine’s earned income tax credit and make it refundable

The federal earned income tax credit increases take-home income for working families all across the US and helps lift millions of kids out of poverty. It also promotes work since it’s only available to men and women—mostly parents—who work. While Maine is one of 25 states that has its own version of the credit in its state tax code, ours is one of the smallest in the nation. It only amounts to 5% of the federal EITC and more importantly it is not refundable.

According to Maine Revenue Services, Maine’s EITC will provide a total of $937,000 in tax relief to 18,000 low- and moderate-income Mainers this year. That’s about $52, on average, for the families that benefit from it. Contrast that with the 100,000 Maine families who benefit from the refundable federal EITC, and receive an average annual benefit of more than $1,800.

By doubling Maine’s EITC and making it refundable, 100,000 working families in Maine would get an average tax benefit (tax cut or refundable credit) of $180 per year. For most of those families, that would be larger than the tax credit they received Governor LePage’s 2011 tax cut, and at much lower cost to the state budget and other taxpayers. Doubling the EITC and making it refundable would reduce income tax revenue by about $17 million per year (1.2%). Compare that with the $178 million (11%) cost of the 2011 income tax cut, the benefits of which flowed mostly to Maine taxpayers with more than $86,000 in annual income.

The Minimum Wage and EITC are Complementary

CBPP’s new report thoroughly explains why the EITC and minimum wage are complementary policies that work well together, so go read their analysis to get the whole story. But the basic gist is that because EITC and the minimum wage  reach slightly different but overlapping populations of low-income working men and women, they help spread the cost of making work pay for low-income families among employers, taxpayers, and consumers. They also provide benefits at different times: the EITC is a lump-sum annual benefit while the minimum wage affects every paycheck. And since both put money in pockets of those who will spend it to feed, house, clothe, and otherwise support themselves and their families, all of us will benefit as Maine’s economy expands and the children who benefit grow up to live productive lives.

Increasing and improving both the state’s minimum wage and EITC: a 1-2 punch that will be a winning combination for Maine’s working families.

Maine’s Working Families Deserve to Earn a Living Wage

The new report by the Alliance for a Just Society, “Families Out of Balance: How a living wage helps families move from debt to stability,” provides sobering data about how much Mainers must earn just to make ends meet.

Simply put, wages in Maine are insufficient to cover the cost of living – and even though the recession is officially over, too many people remain under- or un-employed.  The Alliance estimates that in order to cover the cost of groceries, housing, heating, and transportation, plus save for retirement and pay taxes, a single working adult in Maine needs to earn $15.82 an hour.  For a single-earner family with two children, a living wage is $28.86 an hour.  This living wage doesn’t include little extras like eating out occasionally, making home improvements, taking a vacation, etc.  The report authors calculated the cost of living a basic 20th-century middle-class lifestyle in Maine: housing, food, healthcare, and saving 10 percent of income for a rainy day.  And they conclude that for many Maine working families, this lifestyle is out of reach.

2014 Job Gap_Families Out of Balance_8-26-2014_MEinfographic_medium

Here’s a dose of reality:  while the statewide unemployment figure is 5.4%, the recession hasn’t ended yet for many Mainers. Four out of five new jobs in Maine are located in greater Portland. Unemployment remains above 7% in Franklin, Aroostook, Washington, Piscataquis, and Somerset Counties.  Since the official unemployment figure counts people who are working part-time as employed, it does not disclose the fact that Maine has 40,300 people- the nation’s 6th highest percentage -working part-time who would work full-time if they could.

And for far too many of those who are employed, the wages they earn are far from livable.

A Mainer working full-time for the state minimum wage of $7.50 per hour grosses $15,600 annually – less than half of what it takes to make ends meet, stay warm, and retire someday.

Some commentators argue that the minimum wage does not warrant policymakers’ attention, as it’s just a starting wage earned by teenage fast-food workers.  They’re wrong.  More than 23 percent of workers in Maine’s Second Congressional District earn minimum wage, the highest of any CD in New England.  That’s 60,000 people in a region encompassing more than 11 of Maine’s 16 counties.  Almost a third of women in the Second District earn minimum wage. These women aren’t working for “pin money” – 62 percent of Maine women earning the minimum wage have no partner supplementing their income, as pointed out in a recent report by the Maine Women’s Policy Center.   Statewide, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit more than 110,000 working Mainers.

Raising the minimum wage is just a good start.  The long-term fix for our broken economy is closer to the vision the Alliance for a Just Society articulates: an economy where people who work for a living can cover the necessities of life, care for their children, and put away a little money for a rainy day. Senator Collins, a Northern Maine native, said this week that the unemployment figure is “misleading.”  She’s right.  Huge areas of Maine – the small rural towns, the working coast, the state’s wooded and agricultural interior – have been left behind by the so-called “recovery.”

Maine needs leaders who will work to bridge growing income inequality, improve the standard of living, reduce personal and family debt, and enable Mainers to save to invest in better lives for themselves and their families. That is the only way to restore balance and enable working Mainers to move from debt to stability.

Don Cookson of WZON-AM’s The Pulse Morning Program, interviewed Christy about the Alliance for a Just Society report. To listen to the interview, click here.

LePage Proposal Will Exacerbate Maine’s Hunger Crisis

The facts are shocking. In the U.S. today, 1 in 7 Americans―more than 46 million people, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors―rely on food pantries and food kitchens to eat.

Of the households trying to stave off hunger,

  • 4% have someone in their home in active military service.
  • 34% have at least one member working.
  • 55% have unpaid medical bills.
  • 66% have stopped buying medicine in order to eat.
  • 80% buy cheaper, unhealthier food.

These are just some of the research findings from Hunger in America 2014 conducted by Feeding America, a national hunger relief charity. While the study is not Maine-specific, there is ample evidence that thousands of Mainers are also going hungry.

SNAP 2-7-2014

Further, the study’s findings offer a disturbing look at employment, especially in light of Governor LePage’s recent proposal to enforce work requirements on people receiving food assistance.

Maine is not exempt from the national trend of working households that are still going hungry. We need to do more to make higher education and job training affordable and accessible to give our workers better job skills. We also need to ramp up job attraction efforts to bring in better-paying, higher quality jobs to Maine.

But more telling is that almost one-quarter (24.1%) of food pantry clients are unemployed and looking for work or have stopped their job search because jobs simply aren’t available. This is true in Maine as well; where we have not recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, let alone added new ones.

It is bad enough that so many people must rely on shelters and soup kitchens and shop at food pantries. Now Governor LePage wants to cut off their federal food assistance. Under his latest proposal, unless they are working or volunteering 20 hours per week, thousands of Mainers could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) food assistance. This act will force even more people to food pantries that according to the Maine Hunger Initiative are already overburdened.

In states like Maine where low wages, unemployment, and underemployment likely force people to seek out food assistance, it makes no sense to pile on additional work requirements; especially ones that they are unlikely to fulfill in today’s job market.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will hold a public hearing tomorrow on proposed work requirements for food assistance.  You can speak in person at the hearing or send in written comments.

Testify in person:

When: Wednesday, August 20th at 2:00 p.m.
Where: DHHS Conference Room 110, 19 Union Street in Augusta

Submit written comments by August 31st to:

Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Family Independence
Attn: Patricia Dushuttle, Special Projects Manager
11 State House Station, 19 Union Street
Augusta, Maine 04333-0011

Let’s all tell the governor that his work requirement is a bad idea unless and until jobs are available for Mainers who need them.

July jobs report: Maine continues to lag US, New England recovery

The July jobs report, released today, raises continued concerns about the strength of Maine’s economic recovery. The state’s July unemployment rate of 5.5 percent remains unchanged from a month ago and is below the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.2 percent for July. That’s good, but today’s data also shows Maine losing ground in terms of job growth.

Maine dropped 900 jobs from the adjusted figures for June including 600 private-sector jobs. It’s important to note these figures will likely change with future revisions, but they’re the best available data we have at the moment. What’s more troubling is that Maine appears to be losing ground relative to the job recovery of other states. Maine has recovered 58 percent of the jobs lost during the recession which ranks 43rd among all states and Washington, DC. By contrast, the US has recovered 108 percent of jobs lost in the Great Recession and New England has recovered 124 percent. The state still needs 10,600 jobs just to return to pre-recession levels and 12,600 to keep pace with the US recovery.

Maine Job Watch - July - FINAL

Against this backdrop, over 90,000 Mainers are still struggling to find work according to data released in July by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A stubbornly large number of part-time workers who want more work but can’t find it is driving this trend. In fact, Maine has the 6th highest percentage of “involuntary” part-time workers in the nation. That’s 40,300 workers who want more work but can’t find it.

The high percentage of “involuntary” part-time workers is an important fact to bear in mind when considering Maine’s relatively high employment-to-population ratio. This ratio accounts for all workers as a share of the total adult population and provides a useful alternative to the monthly unemployment rate. True, Maine has one of the largest increases in the employment-to-population ratio of any state, though it remains well below pre-recession levels. This would suggest that, despite relatively low-wages and limited job opportunities, Mainers are doing their best to make ends meet even if that means taking a part-time job in the absence of full-time work.

Another factor driving Maine’s high employment-to-population levels are older workers who have either reentered the workforce or are working longer.  The employment rate for prime-working-age Mainers—those who are most likely to be raising families—has not improved at all from 2009 to 2013.

Today’s jobs and employment data tells only part of the story of the challenges working Mainers face. To attain a more complete recovery Maine’s unemployment and employment-to-population ratio must return to historic levels AND not be sustained by part-time workers who want more work or by older workers who are remaining in the workforce out of economic necessity. A real recovery would afford workers access to jobs that result in increased income and financial security. More than five years since the end of the recession, we still have a long way to go.

More Data to Consider as Portland Debates Raising Its Minimum Wage

Late last month, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan announced the initial details of his plan to raise the city’s minimum wage. If passed, the bill would likely raise the wage from its current $7.50/hour to $9.50/hour in January 2015, with anticipated hikes following in each of the next two years.

The final fate of the proposal is still at least a few months away, but one thing is certain from similar measures passed in other American cities: the debate will be heated. Proponents and opponents are set to advocate on behalf of low-wage workers and small business owners respectively.

In January 2014, the Washington D.C. city council and mayor voted to increase the city’s minimum wage from $8.25/hour to $11.50/hour by 2016 in three phases. The first increase went into effect on July 1, raising the wage to $9.50/hour. A new study out today from the Urban Institute concludes that the rise in wages will have no significant impact on the city’s employment. Here are a few highlights.

  • Family incomes: On average, annual incomes for one half of families earning the minimum wage would increase by $1,500 when the wage reaches $11.50/hour. Another quarter would realize a $500 annual increase.
  • State and federal benefits: Reductions in eligibility for state and federal benefits (from increased income) would offset some of this extra income, but the average family would get to “keep” 50 percent of the increase they experienced.
  • Impact on employment: Increased wages for all minimum wage workers will be offset by an average of 1 percent job losses within this population. That means an estimated 471 jobs lost out of the 41,000 individuals the policy will impact District wide. The Institute based its findings on the assumption that employment drops 1 percent for every 10 percent increase in minimum wages.
  • Impact on Public benefits: Requiring employers to pay higher wages means that low-wage workers will need fewer public benefits. The study concludes that enrollment in the federal Earning Income Tax Credit (EITC) and DC EITC programs would drop by 3 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. Enrollment in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly “Food stamps”) and Supplemental Security Income would drop by 2 percent each.

There is one important distinction between the DC hike and the one Mayor Brennan has proposed. Unlike DC, the Portland proposal—if passed in its current form—would apply to tipped workers as well. In Portland, tipped workers would earn an hourly wage one half that of non-tipped workers, or $4.75/hour. Mayor Brennan has also pledged not to permit special industry carve outs or exemptions. His intent is for the increase to apply evenly across all sectors.

There is a public hearing on the mayor’s proposal set for August 20 at 5:00 p.m. The location has not yet been announced. As policymakers and residents of Portland debate the issue, the Urban Institute’s analysis can illuminate possible impacts of following DC’s example.

 

A Divide and Conquer Strategy that Risks the Health of Maine’s Seniors and Working Poor

The classic “divide and conquer” strategy,  often attributed to cunning Julius Caesar, operates on the premise that pitting your adversaries against each other before you strike  is one sure path to victory. In a recent press release heralding $25.4 million in excess MaineCare funds now available to shore up struggling nursing homes, the LePage Administration appears to be following Caesar’s formula.

This funding is great news for nursing homes in Maine – especially in rural areas where many are struggling badly. But the timing and explanation for the sudden availability of the money raise a lot of questions.

Last November, Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew shocked the legislature by announcing that Medicaid faced a $100 million shortfall.  But in June, the commissioner unexpectedly heralded a $4.6 million surplus fortuitously available to leverage another $8.5 million in federal funds for besieged nursing homes. The governor’s office claim that his repeated vetoes of accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid to 70,000 uninsured Mainers “have been key factors in freeing up funds for nursing facilities” is a political move worthy of  wily Caesar.

The release argues that the only way to pay for nursing homes is by denying low-income working Mainers health coverage. But this is a false choice that clearly pits the interest of two vulnerable constituencies- aging Mainers and the working poor –against one another.

In fact, federal law forbids the state from using funds appropriated  to expand coverage to the uninsured- the funds the governor cites -to pay for anything else. Maine- the only state in New England to refuse the funds- continues to lose almost $1 million in healthcare dollars every day.   In the meantime, the federal government has paid 100% of the costs of coverage in the states that expanded Medicaid – just as promised.

Maine’s nursing homes have been struggling for years. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching case was the 2012 closing of Atlantic Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Calais, The closure displaced elderly residents to Ellsworth 100 miles from their homes, and put almost 100 local workers out of a job.  The governor failed to act then, even after 1,800 residents petitioned him to reconsider Commissioner Mayhew’s authorization of the closure. This spring, many more nursing homes have been open about their financial struggles.

There’s more backstory to this press release. In 2011, the governor proposed to pay for $60 million in tax cuts for the wealthy via cuts to reimbursements to assisted living facilities caring for seniors. This year, in response to the Calais nursing home closing, Senator Margaret Craven of Androscoggin sponsored a bill allocating additional funding to nursing homes. This bill became law without the governor’s signature.

The governor may be following a familiar political strategy when he makes the false claim that health care for the working poor will come at the expense of health care for Maine seniors. But in this game of divide and conquer, the losers are the Maine seniors and working poor whose access to quality, affordable health care are put at risk.

Medicaid counter  8-5-2014FINAL