Maine joins New Mexico & four other states in locking in the three biggest "Blue Leg" protections!

Last week I noted that New Mexico had capped off a flurry of positive healthcare policy legislation by passing a bill (in dramatic fashion) which would lock in ACA-level protections for those with pre-existing conditions in the event the ACA itself is ever repealed or weakened.

Once this bill is signed by the Governor (which is almost certain to happen), New Mexico will join four other states (Massachusetts, New York, Colorado and Virginia) in fully protecting all three types of "blue leg" protections: Guaranteed Issue, Community Rating and Essential Health Benefits. The New Mexico bill also locks in a fourth ACA protection: The prohibition on annual or lifetime coverage limits.

Well, it turns out that yesterday Maine's new Governor, Janet Mills, signed a nearly identical bill into law as well! I don't know if there was less drama surrounding the Maine bill or if news about the progress of the bill simply slipped by me for other reasons, but I didn't know a thing about it until Gov. Mills announced she had signed it yesterday afternoon:

Governor Mills Signs Legislation Protecting Health Care Coverage
March 19, 2019

LD 1 requires insurance companies to include basic patient protections in Maine health care plans

Flanked by lawmakers and health care advocates, Governor Janet Mills today signed into law a bill protecting health care coverage for Maine families. The legislation, LD1, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, passed by strong bipartisan majorities and codifies into state law the patient protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

“I will not leave critical health care protections for Maine people to the whims of Congress or the Courts. I am proud that our state has taken the important step of strengthening the laws that protect critical coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and other essential health benefits,” said Governor Mills. “From this moment on, Maine people can rest assured that, regardless of whatever happens outside of Maine, they will not be denied coverage here in Maine.”

“For me, this bill has always been personal. As someone who has a preexisting condition and who has gone without health insurance, I understand what threats to patient protections mean for families. People with preexisting conditions cannot afford for things to go back to the way they were,” said President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. “While we still have a long way to go to make health care more affordable and more accessible for everyone, I hope workers and parents can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing lawmakers in Maine have their backs."

“From the closings of many of our rural hospitals to the outrageous cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums, to a crippling opioid epidemic, the health care problems Mainers are facing right now are real and they are daunting,” said Speaker Gideon, D-Freeport. “With this bill, we take an important first step toward addressing these issues and making permanent change that will benefit all Mainers.”

In Maine, there are an estimated 230,000 non-elderly adults living with pre-existing conditions. In addition to ensuring that no Mainer living with pre-existing conditions is denied health care coverage, LD 1 “An Act to Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families,” also prohibits charging seniors substantially higher rates due to age; bans lifetime and annual caps on coverage, allows young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and requires ten essential health benefits, such as ambulance services, prescription drugs and pediatric care.