Maine’s Medicaid expansion a success

Now that Governor LePage is considering expanding Medicaid under the provisions offered under the Affordable Care Act, it’s worth revisiting the success of the state’s previous Medicaid expansion.

This requires putting our state’s statistics into some context, something typically not done by opponents of an expansion.

For instance, Mary Mayhew, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services told Florida legislators that Maine’s Medicaid expansion had not significantly reduced the number of uninsured. “Mayhew said Maine had 136,000 uninsured residents in 2002 and 133,000 today.”

A decline in the number of uninsured by 3,000 does not seem like a lot (although you can bet that each individual and his or her family think it matters).

But some context is needed to judge these facts properly.

Maine’s success can be seen by comparing what happened in the state to the rest of the nation

As I showed back in August 2012, in a post with some graphs you may wish to peruse, Maine’s small reduction in the number of uninsured posed a stark contrast to the increase in uninsured elsewhere in the country.

Nationally, the ranks of the uninsured rose, up to 22% among nonelderly adults in 2010 — even as Maine’s dropped a bit — to 11% among nonelderly adults.

Going against that national tide, which left more people with less insurance, and instead enabling more to have insurance — is a clear policy success.

Expanding Medicaid further would bring more money into Maine’s coffers and economy and enable more of Maine people to get life-saving and health extending treatment.

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.