Medicaid Expansion, COVID Relief Helped Maine Reach Record Levels of Health Coverage in 2021

The number of major companies with health coverage reached a historic high in 2021, buoyed by the continuing impact of Medicaid expansion combined with federal measures to combat COVID-19.

Census data was released last week Offers that just under 78,000 miners (about 5.7%) lacked health insurance in 2021. This is the lowest percentage of uninsured people dating back to 1988, when estimates for state coverage began, according to a press release from the Maine Center for Economic Policy ( MECEP).

In 2019, the proportion of key people without health coverage was 8%. Janet Mills’ office announced Monday that the decline in Maine’s uninsured rate from 2019 to 2021 was the largest in the country, and the state went from 26th to the 14th lowest uninsured rate in the United States.

“Over the past two years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Maine has outperformed every other state in improving health coverage,” Mills said in a news release. “Now more people in Maine can see a doctor, afford medications, and receive preventive care, keeping both the family and our economy healthy. I will continue to fight for vital health care coverage that protects the lives and livelihoods of Maine residents.”

MECEP stated that the increase in health coverage demonstrates the continuing impact of expanding the state’s Medicaid program. mills on them First day as governor In 2019 expanded the program that provides Low-income health care. This came after voters approved the expansion in A Ballot Initiative 2017. However, then Gov. Paul LePage – who is challenging Mills in the November elections – Refusal to extend the program while he was in office.

As a result of Mills’ decision to respect the will of the electorate, More than 95,000 master pieces Have been enrolled in Expanded Medicaid as of July.

Another reason for the growth in healthcare coverage in 2021 is the expansion of premium tax credits that helped reduce cost Affordable Care Act Health Plans. This policy was set by the COVID-19 Relief Bill signed by President Joe Biden in March of last year. Without extended credit and For another three years With the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act, 66,000 major companies could have faced an increase in premium costs, according to MECEP.

“This week’s census data reveals the impact policy decisions made in Washington and Augusta can have on people’s lives,” said Garrett Martin, MECEP President and CEO. “The fact that more people have health insurance coverage than we have seen before in the data is not just an accident. It is the result of thoughtful choices that policymakers have made to expand access to coverage.”

However, despite the gains, the group warned that thousands of Mainers will face uncertainty about Medicaid coverage after the federal public health emergency declared as a result of the pandemic ends.

That’s because under emergency rules, states typically can’t kick people off Medicaid lists, even if their income exceeds the eligibility rules. However, when the emergency ends, up to 13% of Medicaid enrollees in Maine could be at risk of becoming ineligible for the program, MECEP estimates. public health emergency epidemic scheduled to end October 15, but the Biden administration has indicated it could be extended beyond that date.

Besides initiatives to increase health care coverage, other government programs have also helped people across the country and in Maine weather the effects of the pandemic. One of these policies was the expansion of the children’s tax credit, which provided a flow of money to families across the United States. Data show child poverty By 46% in 2021and reached a record low, which experts believe was mainly caused by the expansion of credit.

In Maine, the program Children’s hunger quickly decreasedThis initiative has benefited 91% of children across the state. However, Congress allowed the extended credit to expire at the end of 2021. Many Democrats support restoring the policy, but they were met resistance From Democratic Senator Joe Manchin West Virginia and Republicans in Congress.

In addition to the children’s tax credit, MECEP said the Mainers benefited from a decision by state lawmakers to double The Earned Income Tax Credit, a program Provides a tax reduction For low-income workers and families.

“As with health insurance coverage, the economic security of tens of thousands of Maine families has been given a major boost thanks to recent policies enacted at the state and federal levels,” Martin said. “Unfortunately, the expiration of federal programs such as the monthly children’s tax credit means that some families may face greater challenges in the future and reinforces an ongoing need for statewide action on these issues.”

Photo: Referendum campaign volunteers to expand Medicaid coverage in Maine | Via People’s Alliance in Min

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