The Maine House voted to advance a measure Thursday sponsored by Rep. Heidi Brooks, D-Lewiston, that would allow Maine to adopt a single-payer health care model contingent on federal law.
LD 1045 would create the Maine Health Care Plan to provide all medically necessary health care services for all residents in the state. The bill also establishes the Maine Health Care Board to oversee planning and implementation of the plan. The effective date of the legislation is contingent on the enactment of federal law authorizing a state to obtain a waiver to establish a state-based universal health care plan and to receive federal financing for that plan.
"It is time to acknowledge the fatal flaws in our current health care system," said Brooks. "This legislation sends a signal to our federal delegation that Maine is ready to adopt a healthcare system that is accessible, affordable and equitable. This bill ensures that when the time comes, every Mainer will have the comprehensive care they deserve."
Upon federal approval of a waiver and prior to submission of a waiver application, LD 1045 requires the board to make recommendations for legislation and directs the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health coverage matters to report out legislation based on the board's recommendations to the Legislature.
"Prior to the global pandemic, many Mainers suffered and died due to the lack of affordable health care access," said Brooks. "The COVID-19 pandemic led to millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage when they lost their jobs, further exposing the fragility of employment-connected health care. If we all had equitable access to health care, illnesses would be prevented, diseases would be treated early and people would be healthier."
A longtime advocate on issues related to equitable health care coverage, Brooks has sponsored legislation each year of her legislative career to improve Maines health care system.
Brooks is serving her fourth term in Maine House and represents District 61, part of the City of Lewiston. She sits on the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee.