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Politics

Bill Would Extend MaineCare, CHIP Insurance Coverage To Immigrants

Rachel Talbot Ross
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, watches the proceedings as the Maine Legislature works at the Augusta Civic Center, Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee is considering a bill on Thursday that would allow noncitizen immigrants — including asylum seekers — to get insurance coverage through MaineCare and the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

Assistant House Majority leader Rachel Talbot Ross said that coverage was stripped away in 2011 under the LePage administration.

"Preventing a child, an adult, an older Mainer, from getting health care because of their immigration status is wrong. It is discriminatory. And it must end," she said.

Talbot Ross said immigrants contribute to the economy and should have access to health care. She said in 2018, noncitizen immigrant households paid $193 million in state taxes and more than double that in federal taxes.

During a virtual press conference on Thursday morning, Crystal Cron of Presente Maine said immigrants provide labor for some of the largest industries in Maine.

"Even when they have raked thousands of crates of blueberries, shucked hundreds of thousands of pounds of lobster, harvested broccoli, packed potatoes, washed our dishes, cooked our meals, built our houses and cleaned our toilets, they cannot afford to go to a single check up at the doctor," she said.