Committee lays out final recommendations for state response to health care reform in Maine

Maine’s Steering Committee on Health Reform and the Maine Advisory Council on Health Systems Development has released its final recommendations on how the state should implement federal health care reform requirements. There were 14 public meetings and a public hearing on the draft report to assure public input on this controversial slate of issues.

According to the research driving the report more than 500,000 Mainers could be eligible for health care subsidies. The Steering Committee’s recommendations include significant changes to make health coverage more affordable for individuals and small businesses, as well as utilizing federal requirements to improve long-term care services in the state. In addition, the committee is calling on the Governor and state legislators to launch demonstrations in medical malpractice, health care quality, payment reform and disease prevention and to stimulate the development of worksite wellness programs.

The committee also identified some potential savings and opportunities to reallocate funds currently used to insure citizens that would otherwise be kept out of the system. In 2014, when federal health care reform is fully operational, the State will have option to repeal or redirect some or all of the funding that now supports the Dirigo Health programs, since federal funds will replace most of what the agency now funds.

Maine is leading the way on creating a blueprint for state response to federal health care reform requirements. Backed by the Governor, the state has worked quickly to set up insurance options and other initiatives designed to increase the standards for care as well as public understanding of health care reform.

Trish Riley, chair of the Governor’s Steering Committee and director of the Governor’s Office of Health Policy and Finance, said, “We hope this document, which lays out the policy choices that the State will need to consider, is useful to our new leaders as they address their responsibilities to implement the law. Every Mainer stands to benefit from the federal law. “

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