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Mills Seeks To Have State, Not Feds, Run Maine's Health Insurance Marketplace

Patty Wight
Maine Public
DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew (from left), Gov. Janet Mills and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa at a Thursday press conference in South Portland.

Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday that she’s pursuing the creation of a state-based health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

The goal, she says, is to give Maine more control and lower costs. But the plan requires both state and federal approval.

Mills made the announcement at a forum in South Portland on health care access and affordability, which she says will both improve if Maine switches to a state-based insurance marketplace.

Currently, Maine’s ACA marketplace is run by the federal government. Under the model Mills is considering, Maine would still use the federal call center and enrollment website HealthCare.gov. But the state would have more control over federal funding for enrollment.

If Maine boosts the number of enrollees, Mills says, that could lower costs.

“Public education, marketing, outreach, is what we will tackle as a state. Not leave it to the federal government, someone in Washington, to tell Maine people what they need,” she says.

Mills needs the Legislature’s approval before she can submit a plan to the federal government. Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says similar models in other states have received bipartisan support.

“Because when you think about it, you’re taking control. You’re getting the resources, you’re controlling the marketing, and you’re ultimately, hopefully, delivering high-quality care at a more affordable price,” she says.

On Thursday, Mills notified the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of her intent to pursue the state-based marketplace, which would take effect for the 2021 plan year.