On Wednesday, Maine House Democrats voted to increase state spending by over $1.2 billion.
This spending alone represents a nearly 20% increase in the entire two-year budget for the state of Maine.
Additionally, a review of the bills shows that it would add to the already enormous spending proposed by Democrats in their “Opportunity Agenda” proposal.
At the core of the issue, what this demonstrates is that Maine House Democrats desire to not just pass the most irresponsible spending increases in state history, but to fundamentally break the state budget so badly that the Baldacci-era budget shortfalls look like rounding errors in retrospect.
In all, without Republicans stopping the massive spending the Democrats are piling up between their one-day 'Red Wednesday' shopping spree and the Opportunity Agenda, Mainers would see the two-year state budget balloon from about $6.7 billion every two years to well over $8.5 billion.
Just one bill, which Democrats hijacked from a Republican who submitted it only at the request of a constituent – would increase spending by $800 million. Even when that Republican spoke out against the bill on the House floor, telling everyone this was not affordable, Democrats rammed it through.
In case you are wondering, among the spending passed by House Democrats on 'Red Wednesday' were a bill to give $5 million in grants to 'ethnicity-based community organizations', about $150 million in new welfare spending in a series of bills, and an $800 million bill to change the state pension program that requires a massive initial payment and continued liabilities to state taxpayers.
This all comes as the state's individual income tax revenue is projected to come in $28 million less than it did last year, and the Maine Revenue Forecasting Committee has revised the 2017 forecast down by almost $17 million overall.
Yes, while we are clearly failing to see the revenue from the Democrats' “tax the rich” scheme, they are continuing on trying to spend money we absolutely will not have.
That means if this spending were to go into effect, the hard-working people of Maine who are not even close to anyone's definition of “rich” would be required to pony up hundreds of millions in new tax revenue to the state each year.
What matters to Maine voters?
This is a question I ask myself every day when I come to work at 9 Higgins Street.
Do voters obsess over what’s trending on Twitter or do they expect their elected officials to work hard like they do? Do voters obsess over the latest gossip coming out of the swamp or do they want their elected officials to find ways to work together and make their lives betters and make our state more prosperous? I think you know the answer.
It’s easy in a 24-7 instant gratification world to overlook the real solutions our Republican leaders are working on.
This week, Congressman Poliquin’s bill, Removing Outdated Restrictions to Allow for Job Growth Act (H.R. 1177) passed the House of Representatives with broad bi-partisan support (418-1 vote).
What does the bill do? Congressman Poliquin’s bill will allow the Old Town Airport to move forward to developing the land to attract and welcome new interested businesses and jobs to the area. (We featured this story on Episode 2 of News You Can Trust)
Watch Congressman Poliquin’s speech on the House Floor:
I come back to the question I asked in the beginning: what matters to Maine voters? Again, I think we know the answer. Voters want results and they want their elected officials to work hard.
Thankfully, Congressman Poliquin continues to focus his efforts and energies on making Maine’s 2nd Congressional District a better place to live, to work, and to call home. That’s what matters.
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All animals are created equal.
But some are more equal than others.
If you hadn’t guessed by my last post I am a bit of a George Orwell fan. And, while I enjoyed 1984, it is the fable of Animal Farm that captured my heart.
I was first shown the classic cartoon when I was about 7 years old by my Italian teacher while my family was living abroad. As I read the subtitles, naturally I was a little confused that this wasn’t Babe.
Being older now I have to wonder if this was an intentional act, maybe a way my teacher could warn the younger generations about the rise of communism and decry the evil that Mussolini and Italy were very much a part of.
Or, maybe she didn’t realize it wasn’t Babe either.
Regardless, we all know this story, it’s an allegory on human nature. Some people will always believe that they are better than other people, and in being better, they will control and persecute those who are ‘below’ them.
I am beginning to notice this Animal Farm-esque rhetoric in the self devouring monster we still politely refer to as the Democratic Party.
March for and support all women except conservative women.
Feel unequal and discriminated against? Write a new law for people to ignore so you feel like you made a change and call anyone who disagrees with you a sexist or racist.
Want to reduce violence against women and children? Just make sure to refuse to consider how increased border security and vetting of refugees could cut down on human trafficking and genital mutilation of young girls.
Which leads me to my point.
This past weekend a group of young women were at a restaurant. Their waiter gave them free liquor, knowing that they were underage. The waiter then followed them into the bathroom and sexually assaulted them.
Am I the only one here who sees a big red flag?
A full grown man uses his position to intoxicate underage women. While he’s on the job. He follows them into the bathroom, a secluded place, and sexually assaults them.
What this man did was methodical, it is not uncommon for rapists to take advantage of intoxicated people, or to intoxicate them intentionally.
And as terrible and outrageous as this crime is, the man was only charged with misdemeanors.
Did I mention the part where the man who committed the assault is a Mexican National?
Now, I have zero tolerance for sexual assault to begin with. But, this was committed by a non-citizen. This man is as the article states, “a Mexican National”. So, why are we keeping this man in our country and only charging him with misdemeanors? His behaviour was predatory, and we are giving him a free pass to do it again.
I can only think to explain it like this:
All sex offenders are bad. But liberal bias means some aren’t as bad as others, especially if they are Mexican Nationals and you want to avoid the bad press of getting ICE getting involved.
I’m no George Orwell, but that seems about right to me.
I think the DA has some explaining to do.
This article from the Portland Press Herald caught my attention for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the fact that throughout the piece the reporter constructs scenarios to scare readers into believing all sorts of untrue things about the AHCA.
An in depth review of some of the claims in the first part of the article proves most of what is presented is demonstrably false, or at least arguable. The reporter even ignores liberal sources he cites in some scenarios, then speculates on far-flung scenarios for others.
Here is a look at a few of the Press Herald's false claims for the first half of the story, focusing on a low-income Maine family:
Press Herald: “If the Medicaid cuts were to survive Senate scrutiny, at risk would be health coverage for thousands of children, adults with disabilities and low-income seniors who qualify for both MaineCare and Medicare, among other groups. About 75 percent of MaineCare recipients fall into those three categories, according to Maine Equal Justice Partners, a nonprofit advocacy group. That means states would have to figure out how to make up the funding deficits, or slash services.”
Truth: Coverage for children under 19 is explicitly exempted from the waiver, suggestion that people with disabilities or low-income seniors would be harmed is baseless. If Medicaid were cut 6% as is suggested later in the article, it is almost certain the cut would be to able-bodied childless adults.
Press Herald: "If the Harmons didn’t qualify for Medicaid, health insurance would cost them much more, with premiums in the thousands of dollars annually, because they would have to purchase individual insurance for each member of the family. The Harmons are self-employed – Britt is a plumber and Liz a lobsterwoman and hairdresser, so they don’t have access to employer-based insurance."
Truth: Part of the Medicaid reforms in the AHCA allow states to create a work requirement for families to retain Medicaid coverage so long as work requirements are met for able-bodied adults. Children under 19 are exempted from this requirement, but additionally, both parents work – meeting the work requirement. While the reporter uses this paragraph for one purpose, to suggest this family can't afford insurance, what it does is demonstrate that they meet Medicaid work requirements if Maine chose to implement them, thus contradicting the concern he presents. See page 7 here.
Press Herald: "What buying on the individual market under the new law would mean precisely in dollars for the Harmons is not yet clear, but some provisions of the AHCA could devastate families dealing with severe illnesses, such as insurance companies being allowed to place a lifetime limit on how much money insurers will pay out for medical conditions – a provision that the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, prohibited."
Truth: Page 3 here from Kaiser admits that “Prohibition on lifetime and annual dollar limits is not changed”, Kaiser then goes on to claim that because the prohibition applies to essential health benefits, a state might try and change them through a waiver. The reporters injection of such a sensationalistic commentary here is barely acceptable from a left-wing blog, not a serious media outlet. In fact, both the AHCA and AHC prohibit lifetime limits.
Press Herald: "Britt Harmon, Orin’s dad, said medical care would ruin them financially if they didn’t have health insurance. The family sold many of their possessions, including cars and snowmobiles, to pay about $30,000 to $40,000 in medical bills while they waited for the paperwork to go through to get Orin qualified for Medicaid, a process that took more than two years. Orin was born in 2013, shortly before subsidized individual insurance was available through the Affordable Care Act. They lost their employer-based insurance a few months after Orin was born, leaving them exposed to costly medical bills."
Truth: This is a heartbreaking story from this family. However, note that they qualified for Medicaid without Maine participating in Medicaid expansion. The bulk majority of cuts under the AHCA relate to bringing other states, not Maine, back in line with federal poverty levels. The line about subsidized insurance through the ACA appears to be the reporters attempt to draw some connection to the ACA for this family. The facts, show, however, that they were covered under Medicaid without the ACA expansion.
Press Herald: "The AHCA also weakens protections for patients like Orin with pre-existing conditions, although Maine has a law that predates the Affordable Care Act and which bans insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and from charging them more."
Truth: The claim that the AHCA 'weakens protections for patients with pre-existing conditions' has been pretty thoroughly debunked. Although it was initially thought that media coverage was biased by misleading claims from liberal politicians, this reporter continues making the claim even after a number of liberal media outlets have debunked it. See Kaiser statement that AHCA 'requires guaranteed issue of all non-group health plans during annual open enrollment' and 'Prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusion periods is not changed.' It appears the reporter is again constructing fictional scenarios to imagine a way this family might be penalized, but there is no evidence of that. Various entities, from FactCheck.org to the Washington Post have found variations of this claim to be untrue.
Press Herald: "It’s not yet clear whether Maine would have to pass a new law to repeal its existing law, should it seek a federal waiver under the AHCA to allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing illnesses who have let their health insurance lapse."
Truth: This is one of the more misplaced comments in this article. The reporter suggests that a mandatory part of a state waiver would be higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions when in fact, a large part of the waiver strategy and language focuses on states keeping premiums for people with pre-existing conditions low through high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions. The reporter intends to suggest the AHCA makes mandatory something it actually intends to prevent.
Press Herald: "The cuts to Medicaid nationally, projected at about $880 billion over 10 years, would be a major part of dismantling Obamacare, with those funds going to tax cuts for the wealthy planned by President Trump and congressional Republicans. The ACA imposed a greater burden on higher-income Americans than middle-class wage earners."
Truth: This is the reporter literally reciting a DNC talking point to toe the Democrat Party line.. The AHCA repeals an array of taxes, most notably the individual mandate, which hits mostly people unable to afford health insurance, as well as taxes on medical devices, medicines, health savings accounts, indoor tanning, and taxes on people with high-quality health plans. The reporter also completely fails to acknowledge that the ACA instituted no fewer than a dozen taxes deemed by Politifact to be 'middle-class tax hikes.' The truth here is the ACA raised taxes on everyone and the AHCA reduces taxes on those same people.
Press Herald: "There’s not yet an official estimate of how many millions would be stripped of health coverage if the AHCA were to become law, but a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the March bill estimated 24 million Americans would lose insurance coverage."
Truth: CBO did not say this. It said most of those 24 million people would be individuals who would choose not to purchase insurance because they were no longer forced to purchase under the law. It also added in projections of future recipients out nearly a decade, who might not qualify under new standards – for the reporter to repeat the 24 million would 'lose coverage' claim as if individuals today would lose their plans is not true. Further, the way the reporter uses the term 'stripped of health coverage' earlier in the same sentence is misleading.
Wrapping up the first half of this article, here is what we have learned about the family who is the subject of the article:
Glenn Cummings issued a clarification which is currently posted on the USM student paper online. Here it is:
Dear Free Press,
Thank you for your May 1 story that included my reflections at Student Government on USM’s experience this year attempting to balance issues of freedom of speech, allowing controversial speakers on to our campus, and addressing student concerns about their safety.
I would like to clarify one statement in your story. I do not mean in any way to equate Larry Lockman’s extreme comments on some issues in the past with the traditional conservative perspective or viewpoint. What I had hoped to convey is that, going forward, we will be more thoughtful in how we accommodate speakers on either end of the political spectrum. All non-violent views - conservative, liberal, independent (and others) - are welcome here.
Dr. Glenn Cummings
President, University of Southern Maine
96 Falmouth Street
Portland, ME 04103
You decide for yourself if this says anything different than the original quote...
A terrible phenomenon is happening in our country right now, we see it in California and now we are starting to see it closer to home. This phenomenon is censorship by the left, not just censorship, but a forceful suppression of our First Amendment Right to free speech.
Through violent riots, disruptions at public events and threats of violence, extreme liberals are attempting to censor Republicans across the country.
I sometimes wonder how nice it must be to be so naive that you feel justified calling someone who votes for constitutional freedom a Nazi when you yourself identify as a Democratic Socialist. Did you skip school every day of the semester they taught about the National Socialist German Workers' Party? Or about Stalin? Mussolini? Venezuela?
The bottom line is that one of the basic tenets of what keeps our country great is that we have a right to free speech. We can espouse our beliefs free from persecution. Does this mean we have to like what everyone says? NO! We can vehemently oppose it, and even better, we can tell the world that we vehemently oppose it!
I think I speak for the majority of America when I say that it is massively disappointing to see places of higher education being reduced to miniature versions of the Ministry of Truth, only allowing ministry approved information to pass through.
Until now we have been fortunate in that our Maine Universities have respected students’ First Amendment Rights and have allowed what liberals deem to be “controversial” speakers hold events on campus. Just recently, there were threats to shut down a speaking event on the University of Southern Maine’s campus when it was announced that a school group was bringing Representative Larry Lockman to talk about immigration. Maine GOP reached out to USM’s President, Glenn Cummings and was reassured that the event would go on and that he would encourage peaceful protest, not violent obstruction.
Sadly, it would seem that the extreme liberal agenda is finally starting to get to President Cummings.
In a recent interview with The Free Press he said, “I’m not sure I protected the people I was meant to protect. Larry Lockman was given a microphone to spread hate speech against people I’m paid to, and want to, protect. If we have another conservative speaker at USM, we won’t have them up there alone- spewing their hate. We’ll have [them] debating the dean of the law school. There are ways to limit their microphones.” The article continues to say that President Cummings proposed that the Senate work with him to create policy that would determine “who can and cannot come to speak.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your tax dollars at work.
We cannot allow for Maine’s public universities to be controlled and students' rights eroded by the violent and extreme liberal agenda! We must allow students, all students, the opportunity to hear from speakers from all political perspectives, without “limiting” their microphones.
Censorship is a slippery slope President Cummings. Today you may be limiting microphones, but tomorrow you may find yourself in a new position: as Minister of Truth.
Call President Cummings and ask him to retract his comments to the Free Press and tell him to stand strong against pressure from the extreme left.
There are two must-read articles you need to check out and share with your friends and family today.
Allumbaugh: We should be thanking Poliquin for health care vote
With all the Democrats’ hysteria surrounding the House passing the American Health Care Act, Joel Allumbaugh in the Morning Sentinel rightfully highlights ObamaCare’s disastrous conditions here in Maine and how the Maine Model of invisible high risk pools is being used to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to help lower premiums.
Here’s an excerpt from Allumbaugh’s piece:
The American Health Care Act protects people with pre-existing conditions with an invisible risk-sharing program modeled after Maine’s, which lowered rates in Maine’s individual market before Obamacare took effect. Milliman, a well-respected actuarial firm, analyzed the effects of a similar program extrapolated nationally and showed how rates would be lowered for all age groups.
Click here to read Joel’s full article.
Also, if you haven’t already, watch Jason’s video about the American Health Care Act.
Mayor Isgro: ‘Opportunity Agenda’ Out of Touch with Working Mainers
Secondly, Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro’s piece in The Maine Wire correctly highlights how out-of-touch the Democrats’ Opportunity Agenda is with working Mainers.
From their outrageous claims that their “budget” is the largest property tax cut in Maine history, to their excessive Monopoly Money style deficit spending plans, Maine Democrats’ continue to recycle the failed Libby Mitchell and Mike Michaud economic agendas that failed Mainers, especially working Mainers.
Also, Isgro correctly highlights that property taxes are controlled at the municipal level and no increases of revenue sharing will encourage municipalities to reform their spending priorities.
Here’s an excerpt:
In Maine, property taxes are controlled at the municipal level alone. Increasing revenue sharing from 2 to 3 percent is simply a gimmick to give them cover on this controversial issue while doling out less dollars than the annual salary raise in most municipalities. It also ignores recent studies that have shown that revenue sharing actually encourages increases in municipal spending rather than tax relief.
Click here to read Mayor Isgro’s full article.
Also, please make sure to watch Jason’s video regarding the Democrats’ Opportunity Agenda. It’s important we get the truth out to you.
With jobs at an all-time high and unemployment at an all-time low here in Maine, plus wages rising at a healthy rate, it’s pretty hard to grasp why Democrats are still insisting we grow welfare spending with money we don’t have.
Members of the Press,
As you know, instead of working in Augusta toward a budget deal, Democrat Legislative Leaders have been running around the state, holding town hall events to promote all the new spending they plan to do with the “new” revenue from their punishing 3% surtax on Maine small businesses and higher earners.
But, as Maine Public is reporting, income tax revenue is officially flat after the liberal tax hike took effect. http://mainepublic.org/post/maines-forecasting-panel-lowers-revenue-expectations-through-june#stream/0
This is, fundamentally, a case of Democrats ignoring all the evidence that they were presented about this income tax hike not doing what they promised it would do.
The so-called “Opportunity Agenda” being promoted by Democrats relies on a whopping $370 million increase in revenues through the income tax. (Page 9 of the Opportunity Agenda pdf on their website)
State officials just cut that projection to about $6 million.
That is a $364 million structural gap.
There is no way around it.
The liberal desire to punish people through the tax code once again puts us on the edge of a major structural problem with the state budget.
Democrats should immediately recognize they don't have the money they thought they were going to have for their goal of the largest spending increase in Maine history.
It is, sadly, more likely they will somehow try to find a way to blame Republicans for being the adults in the room.
Our hats are off to Senate President Mike Thibodeau, House Leader Ken Fredette and Governor LePage, along with all the Republicans in Augusta who have been resisting Democrat attempts to blow a huge hole in the state budget.
The only 'Opportunity' in the “Opportunity Agenda” is the opportunity to return to the Baldacci era of crisis management and massive budget shortfalls.
Maine deserves better, and Republicans have been doing the hard work on that since January.
All the best,
It would seem that after all we have been through together, some major media outlets are still clueless as to what the public wants. Or, more specifically, to what middle America and the silent majority wants.
Today, President Trump’s campaign committee shared a post called, “Fake New Station Refuses To Run Ad Highlighting The President’s First 100 Days”. The point is simple and clear, the people elected Donald J. Trump to be our nation's 45th President and when he wanted a video highlighting his first 100 days in office to run on CNN, he was censored.
Here is what the President's website had to say:
NEW YORK, NY – Today, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc was stopped by the mainstream media from running a new television ad on CNN. The new television ad entitled “First 100 Days" highlights the President's first 100 days in office; exhibiting clear vision, resolute leadership, and an uncompromising dedication to the American people, just as he promised throughout his campaign.
It would appear that, once again, it is in the hands of the people to share President Trump’s message.
Please share this post on your social media and with your friends. Help us get the word out on how President Donald J. Trump is putting America first.
Senator Angus King's recent claims on Meet The Press discussing gridlock in the federal government conjured images of Senator King sitting alone at a table in a swank D.C. restaurant, lonely and dejected.
You see, the junior Senator from Maine's explanation for why the US Senate and House can't get anything done is pretty strange – it is the Senate schedule's fault. Too many Senators – gasp – go home to their constituents on the weekends!
Senator King describes the problem as one where there are not enough Senators who have served 10 years or longer in Washington.
Apparently, Senator King has not been paying attention to his own state where the state budget is balanced every two years, and there is currently a surplus, unemployment is at a record low, private sector jobs are at a record high, the state's debt has been reduced dramatically, the state pension system has been reformed, and crime is very low.
All this has been accomplished while not a single member of the Maine House or Senate is allowed to serve more than eight years.
Sounds more like Senator King is setting himself up with a platform to explain why he has accomplished nothing in the US Senate during his first term during his re-election.
Maybe instead of bemoaning his lack of dinner dates in Washington, Senator King should try coming home and visiting with his constituents north of Portland sometime.
Individual & Employer Mandates – Repealed
Tax Hikes & New Taxes – Repealed or restored to pre-Obamacare levels
Tax Credits for Insurance Purchases - Provided
Pre-existing Conditions – Still covered, but in a way that doesn't drive up costs for everyone
Internal Revenue Services – Out of the health insurance business
Welfare Expansion – Stopped in its tracks. Largest federal welfare reform in decades.
Essential Benefits and Services – Protected at state level
Let's end the national nightmare of Obamacare...
This is a long email – because I am trying to provide you with as much factual information as possible, as well as set the record straight on a lot of the propaganda you are going to see on the new attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.
First of all, the key parts of Obamacare that Republicans have opposed across the board, such as the individual mandate, the destructive taxes, and the use of the IRS to punish and penalize people for not buying insurance, are repealed. Gone. The individual mandate will be repealed for months beginning after December 31, 2015.
The employer mandate will also be repealed for months beginning after December 31, 2015 under this plan. No more punishing businesses for growing to larger than 50 employees. These businesses can breathe easy on Obamacare's punishment of them.
Components of Obamacare that drive up the cost of health insurance can be replaced by reforms at the state level that reflect free market principles and competition are the best way to bring down health insurance costs. The requirements that plans cover specific essential health benefits (minimum requirements for health insurance plans) can be moved to the state level, so each state can manage their insurance market as they fit, if they wish, with a federal waiver.
This link will take you to Maine's Essential Health Benefits: http://www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance/consumer/consumer_guides/mandated_benefits.html
As you can see, Maine already has robust Essential Health Benefits in place, so when you see scare-mongering tactics from the left claiming various things will no longer be covered in Maine, please share this link with them to prove to them that what they are saying is not true.
Rising premium costs, pre-existing conditions and high-risk pools:
Insurance premiums have been skyrocketing under Obamacare in Maine and across the nation, largely due to the way Obamacare melded coverage of pre-existing conditions with people who do not have pre-existing conditions into the same insurance pool.
Ensuring people with pre-existing conditions under Obamacare is one of the more popular provisions, and so I hope what follows is a helpful explanation of the new plan under the AHCA to replace the mistakes on these issues.
Most exciting for those of us who live here in Maine, these new provisions are based on the bipartisan Maine Model of health reform passed under PL90 during the 125th Maine Legislature and signed by Governor LePage in 2011.
That’s right. Maine is leading the nation. It fits our motto: Dirigo. I lead.
Under current law, people with pre-existing conditions are covered in the same insurance pools with healthy people and young people with no risk factors who would have lower insurance premiums. The result is that those with pre-existing conditions drive up premiums for everyone.
This was one of the fatal flaws of Obamacare - the belief that the government could put young and healthy people in the same insurance pools with people with costly pre-existing conditions and somehow everyone's premiums would drop. Remember how President Obama made all those promises that turned out to not be true? Well, this is one of the big reasons why.
Under the Maine Model in this plan, those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied, but they are moved into what is called an invisible risk pool, where they receive coverage and healthcare, but the plan focuses on management and treatment of their care and costs, with a subsidy just for them – funding which directly helps them.
Now, the new plan will keep provisions that protect consumers in place, such as pre-existing conditions and others. It will stay exactly as it is – exactly. With one potential exception: state governments can show the federal government a better way, a better system, and seek a waiver from the federal government to run these programs at the state level in a way that best works for their own populations.
This does not mean state governments can hack away and abandon people without access to insurance, it just means they can go back to being free to work on better solutions, in the spirit of the way our country has always worked. This is the piece of the legislation liberal Obamacare supporters are claiming will “throw people off” insurance. This is just not true, please correct them when you see it.
The waiver can only happen when states show a better way.
You may be one of those people with pre-exisiting conditions or could be related to someone in this situation. Their coverage is guaranteed, the current system is guaranteed for them – unless a state comes up with what they expect to be a better way and that state receives the ability to implement it.
We can all hope and expect that both the Democratic and Republican controlled State Legislatures and Governors around America would – and will – work hard to ensure their own citizens, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends receiving the care they need.
Clearly, instead of driving up everyone's rates and then subsidizing everyone's costs, healthy people would see premiums drop and no longer need dramatic subsidies, and those with greater needs due to pre-existing conditions will get coverage they can afford.
Under the Maine Model with PL90, individuals with pre-existing conditions were all guaranteed access to health insurance, nobody could be denied insurance. But instead of driving up insurance premiums for everyone, premiums dropped by as much as 70% for some individuals, and the number and size of large rate increases dropped dramatically, while those with pre-existing conditions were still taken care of.
Just imagine if the Maine model which delivered individual market premium decreases of as much as 70% could come back to Maine and be provided to the rest of the nation. That’s what this new reform has the potential to do – based directly on the model we created in Maine.
At the time we put the Maine Model into effect, liberal groups and Democrats were predicting 'Armageddon' in Maine's insurance markets, but all the data showed strong results in lowering insurance premiums and expanding access to affordable care through free-market reforms. Sadly, once Obamacare came crashing in, those gains were erased in short order.
Still, it is incredible for the people of Maine to see a model developed in Maine being used in this national healthcare reform. It is happening because we proved it would work.
Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Savings Accounts and other changes
Obamacare had several regulations and taxes in place that punished those with Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts.
Obamacare prohibits using HSA's and FSA's to purchase over the counter medicines not prescribed by a doctor. This proposal repeals that and allows you to use your HSA or FSA to do so.
Obamacare increased taxes on HSA and FSA withdrawals not related to healthcare. This bill repeals that tax increase and returns it to the levels before Obamacare.
On the spending side, one big problem with Obamacare was the expansion of the welfare state. This bill gives states, including Maine, the opportunity to stop the destructive expansion of the welfare state dead in its tracks.
Included in this bill are many welfare reforms, which we will try to explain in a future email.
Many of the welfare reforms Governor LePage successfully put in place here in Maine are being melded into this national reform Bill.
Once again Maine is leading.
Repealing and not replacing the massive tax hikes of Obamacare
Obamacare imposed new taxes on American businesses and individuals to 'pay for' the government to take over your healthcare. Among these were the medical device tax, the pharmaceutical tax, the tanning bed tax, a tax on health insurance plans (even as costs were shooting through the roof), the Medicare tax, and the net investment income tax.
These taxes along, with the penalties described above, and others are repealed. The 'cadillac tax' is delayed until 2025.
Additionally, several tax credits or deductions will be restored or created that help Americans afford their insurance plans – these include allowing taxpayers to claim expenses that exceed 7.5% as an itemized deduction, instead of the 10% under Obamacare, and establishing a refundable tax credit starting in 2020.
More to come
You may have heard about this so-called “reconciliation process” related to these reforms. This is quite technical but basically involves how laws are passed in Congress.
Due to this process some changes will come in one piece of Legislation and others may come in other pieces of Legislation. Also the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Doctor Tom Price, may also make changes as we seek to lower costs and improve healthcare.
Rest assured the Democrats will try and confuse you on this point. They want you to believe Republicans are – or are not – doing certain things. Stay patient as this could be a multi-level process due to these Legislative rules.
Remember who is – and who is not – affected
About 7% of Maine’s insured people are “on Obamacare.” The other 93% are not.
Who is not on Obamacare – 93% of Maine:
-Senior Citizens on Medicare
-People who get insurance at work with private plans
-People on direct private plans
-Veterans who receive VA coverage
-Medicaid welfare recipients
None of these 93% will have their plans directly affected.
Now of course those who have private or workplace plans and who have seen large rate in increases due to underlying Obamacare regulations will hopefully see reductions due to these reforms. And, those on welfare Medicaid will see changes based on the welfare reforms in the current proposal. However, none of the 93% listed above should have any direct plan changes, just, hopefully like in PL90, reductions in costs.
This is important as you talk with your friends, co-workers, and family about this ongoing Obamacare debate. 93% of Maine people insured are not on Obamacare at all.
For those 7% who are, as you may have seen in the news most in Maine have coverage either through Anthem or something called Community Health Options. Anthem has stated they are looking pull out of Obamacare altogether if it is not fixed. Community Health Options has already lost tens of millions of dollars. Both are not in a good spot. Maine’s Obamacare system is not working well.
Again stay tuned
So this is an ongoing issue and healthcare has been talked out for years and years, long before Obamacare even started.
It is important we together as Republicans, and American citizens, do all we can to have great health care choices, great technology, and care at an affordable price. We also want to make sure all of our family members, regardless of pre-existing conditions, can get coverage.
Please speak with your friends, co-workers, and family about these facts above. And, know this could change again before a vote takes place.
We here at the Maine Republican Party are always working for you and all of the people of Maine.
Please do not hesitate to email me if you have questions or see misinformation.
I have done my best to give you the facts, and make sure we all have the truth in this debate.
Director's Desk is the Maine GOP Blog providing readers thoughts and news from