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Maine's Governor-elect Vows To Expand Medicaid, Address Climate Change

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public
Maine Governor-elect Janet Mills greets patrons at Becky's Diner in Portland Wednesday morning.

Maine Governor-elect Janet Mills says improving health care will be a top priority when she takes office in January.  Mills made an appearance Wednesday morning at Becky’s Diner in Portland, where she also said she would follow through on promises to address the opioid epidemic and climate change.Inside Becky’s Diner, Mills got a warm greeting from former state legislator and political strategist Pat Eltman, who hugged Mills as she passed by. 

Eltman said the win was a long time coming. "It's a really big deal for women in the state and how hard we've worked for this our whole careers.”

Standing outside Becky’s Diner in front of a group of reporters, Mills doubled down on a campaign promise to address health care issues.

"I don't know about the wait staff here but I've met a lot of wait staff everywhere who don't have health care.  Hairdressers. Self-employed people. Individuals and small businesses,” she said. “It's putting a damper on our economy and we're going to address that."

Mills also told reporters she would find the funding to implement Medicaid expansion, and said she  intends to provide more resources to combat the opioid epidemic.

"We need more providers to be certified to administer medication-assisted treatment - Suboxone, methadone, those kinds of things,” Mills said. “And we get into the schools and we do a lot more prevention and education at an early time. It's not just about saying no to drugs."

Mills said she will continue current law enforcement efforts to address the opioid crisis and still supports capping opioid prescriptions.  

Mills beat Republican Shawn Moody, and two independent candidates, to win the governor’s race.  She said she's looking forward to putting together her administration, though she has no specific appointments in mind.

"But I'm ready to go on day one, ready to start today, looking at, getting the best ideas from all the people of Maine,” she said.

Mills said she'll talk with new legislative leaders to try to develop a shared agenda to address health care issues, renewable energy and climate change. 

Mills later headed for Superior Court in Portland to listen to oral arguments over Medicaid expansion.

Originally published Nov. 7, 2018 at 2:46 p.m. ET.