Assignment Desk: Health care reform in Maine

As the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare will be issued soon, reporters have and will be writing about health care reform.

Here are some developments in Maine, all of which have some relationship to the ACA, that I’d love to see journalists cover.

Stories could discuss these endeavors’ relationship to the ACA and look to their future impact on health care access, delivery and affordability.

1. Three months ago, a federal award of $62.1 million went to support the development of a non-profit heath co-op.

As a press release issued then notes:

Much like a mutual insurance company, the CO-OP is governed by its subscribers with the purpose of returning value back to the subscribers and premium payers.

Designed to be operational in 2014 and offered as a qualifying health plan through the anticipated health insurance exchange, MCHO focuses on reducing total health care costs while improving the health outcomes of plan subscribers.

If you’re a reporter who wants to interview someone involved in this, see the press release for contact information.

2. Delivery system reform is a big part of the ACA. This includes electronic medical records but also careful monitoring of high-risk patients in order to keep them healthy and out of the hospital, thus reducing costs and improving health outcomes.

The Bangor Beacon is one of just “one of 17 sites nationwide dedicated to advancing the adoption of electronic health records and expanding connections through health information exchange.”

Bangor Beacon’s website has lots of patient stories and a list of its leadership team. It sure would be interesting to hear from some of them.

3. The ACA greatly expanded funding of Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which provide direct care in clinic settings on a sliding scale and which accept public and private insurance.  These reduce costs by focusing on prevention, careful monitoring, and treatment.

Penobscot Community Health Care “is by far the largest and most comprehensive of the 19 FQHC organizations in Maine and the 3rd or 4th largest of the 100 in New England.” With 14 sites in the Bangor-Brewer-Old Town area, they have 50,000 patients and 640 employees.

How about an interview with someone there or at another FQHC in Maine?

You can see a map of Maine FQHCs by Public Health District at this link.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.