Sara Gideon Releases Health Plan, Criticizes Federal Coronavirus Response

Aug 25, 2020

Maine U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon outlined her six-part health care agenda on Tuesday, which the Democrat hopes will give her an edge in her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

Gideon’s agenda mostly includes provisions embraced by the moderate wing of her party, including an option for people to enroll in Medicare instead of the Medicare-for-all plan favored by progressives.

Gideon says expanding Medicare will provide better coverage and price controls.

“But I also do think that there are people, even through this pandemic, that continue to have private insurance and want to have the option to keep that. And I think they should be able to do so,” she says.

A spokesperson for Collins’ campaign said in a statement that Gideon’s Medicare option is unworkable and will drive up costs for those seeking to retain employer-based coverage. He said employer-sponsored plans already get charged higher prices because Medicare and Medicaid pay so little.

“Sara Gideon wants the government to run health care, and she wants to pay for it by raising your taxes. Many rural hospitals are already struggling to even stay open, and Gideon’s plan would only increase the tremendous pressure on these hospitals - putting patient care at risk,” the spokesman said.

Gideon also criticized Collins for for supporting a 2017 GOP tax overhaul eliminating the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, a move that gave rise to a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration seeking to dismantle the entire ACA.

That lawsuit will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after the November election, but it has allowed Democratic congressional candidates to target GOP incumbents who supported the tax bill.

At the time of the tax overhaul, Collins said she opposed eliminating the provision that required most Americans to have health insurance. She originally said she had received assurances from Republican leaders that a separate bill buffering the impacts of removing the mandate would be considered. She later accused Democrats of blocking the measure, although Republicans in the House also opposed it at the time.

Republican efforts to scuttle the ACA were used against them during the 2018 midterm elections that helped Democrats obtain a majority in the U.S. House. Democratic candidates across the country are once again making health care and preserving and expanding the ACA a central plank of their campaigns.

Collins was lauded by ACA supporters in 2017 for joining three other Republicans in voting against a bill to repeal the landmark health care law. But she has been widely criticized for the subsequent tax overhaul vote repealing the individual mandate.

Gideon’s heath care plan was released after she criticized the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a series of meetings with health care workers and hospital executives on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after an hourlong meeting at York Hospital, Gideon said the federal government’s decision to let states fend for themselves led to shortages of testing and personal protective equipment for health care workers.

“We’ve seen states competing with each other to get personal protective equipment. We’ve seen hospitals compete with each other to do the same. And that’s just not right,” she said.

A Democrat, Gideon said the federal government should be helping coordinate the pandemic response and not just leaving states on their own.

She also criticized Senate Republicans for not negotiating a new pandemic aid package to extend unemployment benefits and provide aid to states and local governments.

Gideon is one of three candidates challenging Collins’ bid for a fifth term. Max Linn and Lisa Savage are running as independents.

ctive equipment. We’ve seen hospitals compete with each other to do the same. And that’s just not right,” she said.

A Democrat, Gideon said the federal government should be helping coordinate the pandemic response and not just leaving states on their own.

She also criticized Senate Republicans for not negotiating a new pandemic aid package to extend unemployment benefits and provide aid to states and local governments.

Gideon is one of three candidates challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ bid for a fifth term. Max Linn and Lisa Savage are running as independents.