Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maine: How the GOP rammed through a massive health insurance overhaul

The new Portland Phoenix has my cover story on how Maine Republicans railroaded a massive overhaul of our health insurance regime through the State House, and the political fallout that's followed. The majority party sometimes slams a bill through the system faster than anyone can digest it, but rarely do these bills involve such genuine life-and-death issues as those affected by LD1333.

The Phoenix cover artists even created this insurance lobbyist/devil figure to illustrate the piece. Hyperbolic, perhaps, but you have to admit it's eye-catching.

For the policy wonks out there, I did take the time to photograph the testimony submitted for the original April 27 hearing, back when this was but a four-page bill. The points raised for and against the loosening of restrictions on charging higher premiums based on a customer's location, gender, age, or health status, may still be valid in regards to those components of the new law. You can find it here as a 37-megabyte PDF. (Why the legislature hasn't ordered that all committee testimony be scanned and posted online is beyond me.)

Vermont also overhauled their health insurance system last month. The difference: they're going to a single payer model. Will be interesting to see which approach results in the best outcomes for these respective state's people.

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