From: Jennifer Lunden LCSW, LADC, CCS
You may have already heard the terrible news. The Maine House was not able to get the two thirds majority needed to override Governor LePage's veto of LD 1066, the act to bring federally funded health insurance to 69,500 low-income Mainers. The vote went strictly down party lines. I believe we were just two votes short. It was a valiant effort by our state's Democrats; and by Cover Maine Now--a coalition that includes many organizations, including my agency, the Center for Creative Healing; and by people like you.
On Wednesday, 45 Mainers dropped everything on a day's notice and lined the halls all the way from the House chambers to the Senate, holding signs saying "Cover Maine Now," and handing out placards quoting testimony from people all over the state. But in the end, all of our efforts weren't enough to convince Republicans to break rank from our embarrassment of a governor, who made national news for his latest blunder. (Here's Rachel Maddow's hilarious take on our not so hilarious situation here in the state of Maine.)
So. What now?
The good news is that the campaign to bring federal funds to Maine is not over. From Cover Maine Now:
"Although approximately 25,000 low-income Mainers may lose their health care coverage and 45,000 will remain uninsured as of January 1, 2014, we can limit the harm by urging our elected representatives to enact legislation that would accept the funds next year. This is why we need to continue our fight and we need to reach out to our lawmakers to hold them accountable for their final votes following the Governor’s veto."It is important to raise awareness about the vote and to encourage people to share their views with legislators. Please use social networking to do this, and consider sending a letter to the editor.
And from Cover Maine Now, here's another idea:
Please thank your Representative if he/she voted to cover more Mainers through MaineCare, or tell your Representative you’re disappointed in his/her vote against LD 1066.
First – Look up your Representative. Enter your town and residential address and click submit. Then, click on the Elected Officials tab and write down the e-mail addresses of your State Representative (under Maine House of Representatives).
Next - Check how he or she voted on the LD 1066 override.
Then – Copy and paste the e-mail below into a new e-mail message, fill in your legislator’s name and add in your name and contact information… then, send it along to your legislator!
Finally – Spread the word to keep our fight alive. Send this message along to a few friends and encourage them to take action as well.
Send the following message to those who voted YES on LD 1066:
Dear [Your Representative],
Thank you very much for supporting LD 1066, legislation to accept federal funds to provide health care to nearly 70,000 Mainers who need it. I am disappointed that LD 1066 did not succeed, but I hope that you will continue to advocate for accepting federal funds to expand access to health care. Every day that we forgo these funds is a day that uninsured Mainers face the possibility of a financially ruinous medical crisis.
Not only is accepting federal funds the right thing to do for our friends and neighbors, it will help support the Maine economy and our hospitals. By accepting the federal funds and providing health care coverage through our state Medicaid program, Maine can reduce overall health care costs and save millions of taxpayer dollars being spent treating uninsured people in emergency rooms.
I hope you will keep working to bring these funds to Maine. I want our state to have a healthier workforce and a more competitive economy.
Send the following message to those who voted NO on LD 1066:
Dear [Your Representative],
I was very disappointed to hear that you did not support the final vote on LD 1066, legislation to accept federal funds to provide health care to nearly 70,000 Mainers who need it. Maine people have worked hard to provide for themselves and their families and deserve the opportunity to stay healthy. Every day that we forgo these funds is a day that uninsured Mainers face the possibility of a financially ruinous medical crisis.
LD 1066 represented a compromise among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents that would have brought generous federal funding to Maine beginning January 1, 2014. A large majority of Mainers support accepting federal funds to increase access to Medicaid coverage. Accepting these funds would have saved lives, created more than $350 million in economic activity, created 3,100 jobs and prevented potential tax penalties for large employers.
I hope you will reconsider your position on this issue in the coming months. Maine needs to focus on policies that will create a healthier workforce, boost our economy, reduce societal costs and keep our state economically competitive. Accepting federal funds would do just that.
And finally, I want to say a special thank you to Republican Senators Roger Katz, Patrick Flood, and Tom Saviello, for breaking rank with their party and expressing their support for LD 1066. It is regretful the bill never made it back to the Senate, where they could have continued to stand up and represent the vast majority of Mainers who want healthcare justice in Maine.
We will continue to fight.