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Record Level of Mainers Have Health Coverage Thanks Largely to Medicaid Expansion

Andy O’Brien
23 Sep, 2022
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A new report from the US Census Bureau finds that the number of uninsured Mainers has fallen to a historic low thanks to Maine’s expansion of Medicaid that expands MaineCare coverage to thousands of working class Mainers. 

“Over the last two years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Maine outperformed every other state in improving health coverage,” Governor Janet Mills said in a news release. “Now more Maine people can see a doctor, afford medications, and receive preventive care, keeping families and our economy both healthy.”

According to the health data from the 2021 Current Population and American Community Surveys (CPS and ACS), 5.7 percent of Mainers (just under 78,000 people) lacked health insurance in that year — down from 8 percent in 2019 — representing the lowest share of the population without health insurance since 1988, when regular state-level estimates begin. 

In 2017, Maine voters voted overwhelmingly to approve Medicaid expansion for 90,000 low-income, working class Mainers after Governor Paul LePage vetoed the measure several times during his tenure. He spent the next year continuing to block implementation of the voter-mandated law until Governor Janet Mills implemented Medicaid expansion -- accepted the federal funds -- as one of her first actions as governor in 2019. 95,000 Mainers were enrolled under the expanded eligibility rules as of July 1, 2022.  

According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), health insurance coverage also increased due in part to expanded premium tax credits that helped Mainers continue to afford coverage during the pandemic. These expanded credits were recently extended for several more years under the recent Inflation Reduction Act. Had these credits not been extended, 66,000 Mainers would have seen premium increases at the beginning of the year according to MECEP’s analysis.