Mainers flood State House to remind lawmakers: ‘Medicaid expansion is law’

Mainers whose lives will be dramatically impacted by Medicaid expansion and other supporters of increased access to health care flooded the halls of the State House on Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to allow a smooth implementation of the new law.

The lobby day, organized by the Mainers for Health Care coalition, kicked off a countdown to July 2, when 70,000 Mainers will become eligible for affordable care through expanded Medicaid. It also marked one week until the administration of Governor Paul LePage is supposed to submit its plan for implementation to the federal government.

“It is finally time for the will of the people to be done,” Jane Field, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches, a group of eight denominations which represents 550 local congregations across the state, said at a morning press conference.

“It is finally time for our legislators to pass a supplemental budget that funds expansion, and to do so with a veto-proof majority, so that on July 1, it will finally be time for 70,000 Mainers to have the health care coverage they so desperately need,” Field added. “Make no mistake: Funding the expansion of Medicaid will save lives.”

Robyn Merrill, co-chair of Mainers for Health Care and the executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, also remarked, “Today, we’re here to remind members of the Legislature that voters made their voice clear: They want more people to have health care coverage.”

Many of the participants spoke with their elected officials about their own challenges accessing affordable care.

“Having lost my medical insurance when the mill closed, I have not been able to properly treat my diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, and situational anxiety,” said Ann Avery, a 58-year-old resident of Old Town, who noted that since she does not qualify for subsides through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, many of her health costs come “out of my pocket.”

Others, like Cate Gaynor, a family nurse practitioner and clinical director at Greater Portland Health, came to highlight “what expanding MaineCare means from inside the exam room.”

“I see the painful personal stories that lead to bad health, and I also see the hope that comes with good health,” Gaynor said. “Whether it’s treating a disease or preventing one, the key is consistency – and this is where MaineCare matters so much to the people in my exam room.”

Photo via Mario Moretto

About Lauren McCauley

Avatar photoLauren McCauley is Editor of Maine Beacon. Previously, she was a senior editor at Common Dreams covering national and international politics and progressive news. Lauren also helped produce a number of documentary films, including the award-winning Soundtrack for a Revolution and The Hollywood Complex, as well as one currently in production about civil rights icon James Meredith. Her writing has been featured on Newsweek,, TruthDig, Truthout, In These Times,and Extra! the newsletter of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. She currently lives in Kennebunk with her husband, two children, a dog and several chickens. Lauren can be reached at Lauren(at)

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