The Coastal Packet: The financial affects of Maine Care cuts

Friday, August 4

The financial affects of Maine Care cuts

Maine Center for Economic Policy - Last year, half of Maine’s hospitals ran an operating deficit. According to figures from the Maine Health Data Organization, two thirds of Maine’s hospitals have just one month’s cash on hand (or less). Why is this important for Mainers? Not only are hospitals the primary providers of health care in the state, they are also the largest employers in nearly every county. For years, the Maine Hospital Association has warned about the financial strain on our hospitals, leading some to begin laying off staff, or shutting down entire departments. The major cause of this crisis is Governor LePage’s decision to not only refuse to expand Medicaid access under the Affordable Care Act, but to restrict Medicaid eligibility in Maine (known as Maine Care) – driving up the number of uninsured Mainers.

Uninsured patients are much more likely to be unable to pay for medical treatment, and leave hospitals with charity care costs or bad debt that they eventually write off. Data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which maintains a database of state-by-state hospital inpatient admissions, show that Maine’s hospitals are seeing an increasing share of patients who have no insurance coverage whatsoever; a trend that coincides with a decline in the share of Maine Care admissions. 

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