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Maine Senate fails to override veto on Jackson insurance bill

The Maine Senate on Monday upheld a veto on a bill that sought more patient protection in health coverage plans.

Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash sponsored LD 1279, “An Act to Ensure Patient Protections in the Health Insurance Laws.” The bill would have allowed those younger than 26-years-old to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The bill sought to prevent companies from offering skeleton coverage plans, which Jackson said discriminated against individuals with pre-existing conditions. He said that the bill would have prevented individual, group and blanket health plans from excluding those with such conditions.

The bill was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage, who wrote in his veto letter to lawmakers, “Once again, the Legislature is second-guessing the federal government by passing this bill to embed provisions of the Affordable Care Act that it favors in Maine law. However, as long as the ACA is still the law of the land, this bill has no practical effect.”

He added that the unintended consequences of the measure “could be as disastrous to Maine as the ACA has been at the federal level. Moreover, I see no fiscal analysis to indicate the true cost of the bill if it were to go into effect in the absence of the ACA.”

The Senate voted 17-16, failing to meet the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

“Gov. LePage’s dismissive attitude toward health care shows just how out-of-touch this administration is with the health care needs of Maine people,”  Jackson said in a written statement. “All this bill sought to do was integrate basic patient protections that exist at the federal-level into state law, in the event that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are successful in the future. This was a missed opportunity to put Maine people before insurance companies.”

Jackson introduced the legislation late last year after several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the summer of 2017. According to report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an estimated 230,000 non-elderly Mainers have pre-existing conditions that would have reduced their health care coverage options prior to the ACA.

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