This past week, Democrats once again demonstrated why they are out of touch with the needs of working families, small businesses, people with pre-existing conditions, and those who are covered through the private and small group insurance markets.
This is Rep. Josh Morris, of Turner, with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.
This week, the legislature reconvened in special session and met in person for only the fifth time this year. It is disappointing that as Mainers are getting back to work and more schools begin to open, that our State Capitol building remains empty, and closed to the public. The majority party continues to waste taxpayer money on renting the Augusta Civic Center.
As this new special session of the legislature began, Democrats supported increasing insurance premiums and limiting choices for individuals and families buying health insurance. This was done along party lines.
Republicans have supported majority-sponsored bills when they contain provisions that help everyone improve their access to quality and affordable health insurance. But, as they have demonstrated time and again this session, Democrats will not support Republican proposals, no matter how beneficial to Maine.
As a result of stopping these Republican bills, LDs 352 and 443, Democrats will make struggling small businesses, and their employees, pay more for health insurance. Maine’s small businesses will also have fewer insurance options, with benefits determined by the state.
I sponsored both these bills to preserve lower insurance rates and enhance consumer choice. These proposals protect the effectiveness of the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA), which is responsible for an 11 percent decrease in individual insurance premiums since 2019.
Any time health insurance premiums go down, without affecting quality or access to care, that is a good thing.
By voting against these two bills, Democrats will reverse the trend toward lower premiums and replace it with a four percent increase. This will happen because the Governor is combining individual and group insurance plans. Current law states this can only be done if an independent study shows doing it will not result in an increase to consumers.
Guess what, the independent studies show that combining the plans will increase costs. Democrats support merging it anyway.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Projected premium increases are there in ‘black and white’ in two independent actuarial reports by Gorman Actuarial and Milliman Actuarial. The Maine Bureau of Insurance and MGARA contracted with those two firms to conduct the study called for by law.
By Democrats voting against these bills, beginning in 2023, the average monthly premium for an individual policy will rise $25 per month. For a family of four purchasing health insurance on the individual market, that’s an additional $1200 a year. That’s the average. Someone with a pre-existing condition or other underlying concern is likely to pay more.
If insurance premiums increase, younger and healthier people tend to drop coverage leaving older and less healthy people in the market or the “pool”. When younger and healthier people drop out of the market, premiums go up for everyone else in the market. It hurts people who need insurance most, especially people with pre-existing conditions.
My other bill ensured that small businesses and employees would continue to be able to have access to a myriad of insurance options and choices in the insurance they buy.
By stopping LD 443, Democrats are limiting the number of plans available to a small business and their employees to just twelve plans selected by The Maine Bureau of Insurance.
My proposal allowed employers to keep the insurance plans they currently offer to their employees. By stopping this bill, Democrats are forcing a reduction in benefits and putting the Bureau of Insurance in charge of your choices.
Maine’s small businesses will now have to choose between offering fewer benefits to their employees or making cuts in other areas, such as wages, to cover the increased costs of plans that are less tailored to their needs.
That means people will pay more for less. I hope Democrats will reconsider their position and support struggling small businesses, their employees and people with pre-existing conditions covered by individual and small group insurance plans.
Two independent actuarial firms determined rates will be up. The Democrats are choosing to ignore the experts opting instead to pursue an inefficient, anti-choice, government run health care policy.
House Republicans will continue to support access to quality and affordable health insurance. We will oppose anything that increases your costs, limits your choice, and complicates healthcare even more.
This has been Rep. Josh Morris with the Republican Weekly Radio Address.
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