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Coverage of preventive care services won’t be subject to DC politics

A new bill increasing access to preventive healthcare coverage without cost-sharing will become law after the House and the Senate overrode the governor’s veto. The bill, LD 1476, requires Maine insurance companies to cover preventive care services in line with current coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without copays or other cost-sharing provisions. Additionally, the new law does not remain static and allows for other preventive measures to be added if recommended by national medical experts.  

“This is a game changer for Maine women and families,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “Preventive care services will be determined by scientific panels, not the whims of politicians, and families can’t be forced to pay extra for coverage. Preventive care is basic health care. It’s immunizations, annual exams, cancer screenings, and cholesterol tests. It’s critical Maine people have access to this life-saving care. It’s what Maine people want.”

The Affordable Care Act requires coverage of certain Essential Health Benefits including specific preventive care services for children, adults, and women.

LD 1476, sponsored by Rep. Jay McCreight of Harpswell, will lead to increased preventive care coverage because the language calls for the state to follow recommendations from scientific panels like the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the US Preventive Services Task Force.

“This means that when the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines are updated to include additional screenings, Maine insurance companies must cover that new service and they have to do so without cost-sharing,” explained Clegg. “Maine won’t be limited to medical guidelines set eight years ago when the ACA became law and won’t be subject to the whims of DC politicians.”

This is the third bill in as many years to expand and protect access to care that the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund has championed: in 2015 PPMEAF fought for a bill to provide low-income people access to sexual and reproductive health care; last year PPMEAF advocated for legislation that requires insurance companies to cover birth control without copays and up to a year’s supply at a time, and now the preventive healthcare bill.

Citing his objection to the ACA and desire to see it repealed, Governor LePage vetoed the preventive care bill but the House overrode the veto in a 115-34 vote last week and earlier today the Senate voted 30-4 to override the veto.

These new requirements apply to all plans issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2018.