Layoffs happen in Maine. Mills have closed, MBNA has come and gone. More recently, Athenahealth has laid off 9% of its workforce nationwide, some of whom are our friends and neighbors in Belfast. When layoffs happen, hardworking Mainers lose their health insurance. These people are us: neighbors, children, parents, and friends.
Mainers have significant chronic health conditions: diabetes, cancer, asthma, depression, heart disease, COPD. In Penobscot County alone, 9.2 % of us (about 14,000 people) are diabetic and it’s likely that at least 500 of us have cancer at any given time. Tens of thousands of people have these and other chronic conditions that require ongoing medical care.
When Mainers lose coverage or cannot afford healthcare, health deteriorates rapidly. They soon present at the local emergency room for care. While hospitals must under law provide emergency treatment for people who cannot afford to pay for their care, the cost of that “free care” is paid by all of us in the form of increased taxes, higher insurance premiums, and higher family debt. We already pay for this care, yet this is the most expensive and least effective form of healthcare. It does not make sense to do it this way.