Letter to the editor: Fund Medicaid expansion now

Posted:  Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 9:00pm

Governor LePage's administration refuses to implement the Medicaid expansion law passed by 203,080 Maine voters in November. People should be able to get care on July 2, 2018, and preparation needs to be happening right now. As a newly retired medical social worker, I know that Medicaid expansion is desperately needed by the 70,000 Mainers.

I worked with people who go without medical care and only go to the emergency room when in-crisis. Hospitals are required to give them treatment regardless of ability to pay and must absorb those costs.

These patients are often forced to choose between medical treatment, medications, food &/or paying their rent. Many need this coverage for preventive and routine healthcare, and for some this coverage is really a matter of life or death.

At the State House, patients told what it is like to be sick and without healthcare coverage. One had a long career cut short by workplace injuries, and now can't afford follow-up care. Another delays visits to the doctor, despite worrisome symptoms, putting them at-risk for further illness, perhaps even death. This is unacceptable.

The surplus in the Maine budget this year could be used to fund Medicaid expansion in 2018 and 2019. In addition, Medicaid expansion will generate $700 million in new economic activity yearly, create 6,000+ jobs and support rural hospitals and clinics. I urge our Governor and legislators to do the right thing and do it now!

Kathryn A. Kreamer, LSW, BSW, MA, lives in Belfast