Access to Care: A Critical Cornerstone to Reducing the Risk of Preventable Premature Death

Access to care for individuals and families is a foundational strategy to living longer, better. Specifically, access to care is a critical cornerstone of the prevention, identification, and treatment of health issues that can affect any of us.

Fortunately, Medicaid provides access to affordable health coverage for many low-income households. Medicaid is a health care program that assists low-income families or individuals in paying for doctor visits, hospital stays, long-term medical, custodial care costs and more. Medicaid is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government and run at the state level, where coverage may vary. In Maine, it’s called MaineCare.

Eighty percent of Medicaid-qualifying adults live in low-income working families or are employed. Of those adults who are not working and on Medicaid, 71% are not working due to medical illness or disability, retirement, or are acting as caretakers.

And yet 10.6% of Cumberland County residents between ages 21-64 lack health coverage because they do not fall into an eligible coverage category under Medicaid and still cannot afford to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace Exchange.

In November 2017, Maine voters voted to expand its Medicaid program (MaineCare) under the federal Affordable Care Act. This is important to United Way of Greater Portland because when people have access to medical care, they are more likely to succeed in school and work, and live longer, healthier lives.

Medicaid expansion translates directly into better health and medical outcomes for individuals and our community.

  • Ensuring that our friends, family, and fellow Mainers receive access to medical care will help reduce the risk of preventable premature deaths.
  • Access to care will lower the uninsured rate 3.6% and 15,000 of our family, friends, and neighbors in Cumberland County will now be eligible for coverage.
  • Coverage will help improve hospital finances and benefit our state’s economy. It’s estimated that there will be a $54 million reduction in costs to Maine’s hospitals due to fewer people needing uncompensated care (including emergency room visits).
  • In Cumberland County, 1,300 new jobs will be generated with over 500 of those jobs outside of the healthcare industry.

However, today MaineCare expansion has still not been implemented. Contact your legislator today to ensure that MaineCare is expanded to care for 15,000 of our neighbors.

For more information, please contact Ronald Jarrett, Director, Public Policy, or Emily Rines, Director, Health.