The Star-Herald

Making sure we have accessible health care

One of my top priorities as a state senator is to make sure all Mainers have affordable and accessible health care. Last session, my colleagues and I passed the prescription drug reform package to lower the costs of medication. This session we are working on the Patients First Health Care Package, to clamp down on abusive and confusing billing practices and ensure Mainers have an advocate in their corner when dealing with out of control medical bills. 

 

While the Patient First package seeks to make health care affordable, I am also working to ensure the folks in the County can access it.

 Residents of Blaine, Bridgewater and Mars Hill’s current ambulance service will be terminated by April 2020, affecting their access to timely health care. With only months to come up with a new plan, they learned that they would no longer have an ambulance to call, period. What would happen to their friends, family and community if they needed immediate emergency attention?

 Representatives from these Central Aroostook towns and I put our heads together to develop a solution to this question. The towns decided they wanted to create their own ambulance service. As a result, I sponsored LD 2050, “An Act To Establish the Central Aroostook County Emergency Medical Services Authority.” Our bill would create a quasi-municipal corporation for these towns to run an ambulance service through. Bills sponsored during second session must be emergency measures, which emphasizes the inherent urgent nature of the bill. 

By solving a critical and time-sensitive problem, our bill qualified as an emergency measure. The bill received unanimous support from the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, is waiting on full votes in the Legislature, before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 I also added another measure in the draft of the bill to make sure once the bill becomes law, it goes into effect immediately. Normally, bills go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the year, but reinstating ambulance service in Central Aroostook County is too important to wait. If LD 2050 passes and becomes law, Blaine, Bridgewater and Mars Hill will have no gap in ambulance service.

 I worked together with people in our community to address this issue swiftly and effectively. Not having accessible or affordable health care in Maine is, unfortunately, a reality for too many. I believe health care should be for everyone, no matter how much money you have or where you live. That’s why I care so much about making sure Mainers, whether you live in Blaine, Bridgewater, Mars Hill, or somewhere else, receive the health care you need and deserve.

 As always, if you have concerns or ideas about legislation to help our community, please email me at Mike.Carpenter@legislature.maine.gov or call my office at 207-287-1515.

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