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State Lawmakers Consider Bill That Would Create A Healthcare-Focused Commission

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao
Getty Images via NPR

The Legislature is considering the creation of a new state commission charged with finding ways to reduce the cost of healthcare in Maine.

The proposal is modeled after a similar commission in Massachusetts and would work with medical care providers to find ways to reduce costs, from prescription drugs to hospital procedures.

The sponsor is Senate President Troy Jackson, a Democrat from Allagash.

“This bill is about creating a commission and secure savings for Maine people and businesses, and fixing our healthcare system,” says Jackson. “The bill also proposes to move the duties of the prescription drug affordability board into the commission.”

At a public hearing on his bill, Jackson was supported by several lawmakers and healthcare advocates, but strongly opposed by several medical care providers, including the Maine Hospital Association. They say that while they support the goals of the commission, they were not consulted in drafting the legislation, which they say might include a hidden tax that could be passed on to consumers.

The Maine Hospital Association’s Jeff Austin warned that the bill could make a bad situation worse. “In my tenure at the Hospital Association, three hospitals have closed, two are in bankruptcy,” says Austin. “Our members are fighting every day to make sure the doors are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make sure your constituents have the healthcare they need.”

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.