Vermonters for Health care Freedom
(Montpelier) Back in 2011, while the Vermont Legislature was putting the finishing touches on Act 48 – Governor Shumlin’s experiment in government monopoly single payer health care reform – the State of Maine was moving their health insurance system in the opposite direction. It will be several years before the effects of Act 48 are fully known, but Maine’s reform, known as PL 90, is already generating dramatic results.
According to The Maine Wire, health insurance premiums for small groups and individuals are headed down – in some cases as much as 60% below pre-PL 90 rates. The reforms are part of a suite of market-based measures that divided the Maine Legislature along party lines as severely as Act 48 split Republicans from Democrats in Vermont. According to The Maine Wire,
“Since the law took effect this past October, we have primarily seen the laws impact to Maine’s small group insurance market with the vast majority seeing lower premiums,” said Joel Allumbaugh, President of the Maine Association of Health Underwriters and Health Care expert at the Maine Heritage Policy Center. “Now we are seeing huge progress in the individual insurance market as well, with rate decreases up to 60%, it’s a huge step forward for Maine.”
Jeff Wennberg, executive director of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, which has advocated for market based policies in Vermont similar to those enacted in Maine, said this is just the beginning, “Maine is now proving the wisdom of market based reforms, and when the Maine health care benefits exchange law is fully implemented we will see even lower costs, better coverage and fewer people without access to health insurance.”
Wennberg’s group was an outspoken opponent of the Vermont exchange bill, H.559, frequently citing Maine’s approach as the best policy to achieve affordable coverage for the greatest number of people. “Vermont’s Act 48 and H.559 move this state in the opposite direction and we expect to see the opposite results – higher costs for most businesses and families, more people going without insurance than is currently the case and a steady decline in the availability of timely, quality health care,” Wennberg said. He advised Vermont’s policy makers to study and learn from Maine’s example before irreversible damage is done to the Vermont health care system.
The full Maine Wire story is available here: http://www.themainewire.com/2012/05/individual-health-insurance-rates-set-drop-60-result-maine-health-care-reform/