As a legislator, I have two very important things to do: To deal with any problems that may arise, and to deal with the problems that our community and government face on a daily basis. The cost of medical care can fall into both categories, but primarily secondary.

Health care is often expensive – and can seriously affect the family budget, sometimes leading to severe stress and financial hardship. In the United States, health care costs are still higher than in other developed lands. However, everyone needs affordable, high-quality medical care to stay healthy and strong, to raise their families, and to succeed at work. Instead, 100 million American adults are in debt. This is why we are so proud of the work we have done to increase access to and reduce the cost of health care for Maine families.

Anne Carney

The three health bills I assisted became law this session. LD 372, LD 1357 and LD 1781 will help protect the health of mothers and children, as well as reduce the financial burden of doctors and insurance premiums on family budgets here in Senate District 29 and throughout our region.

With the help of the budget, LD 372 is making a number of changes to the Cub Care program, to better implement the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and to improve the care of Maine children and pregnant women. These changes include raising the appropriate level of family income from 200 percent of federal poverty to 300 percent of federal poverty; terminating the waiting period of three months for registration after the loss of employment from employers; increase 19- and 20-year-old publications; and eliminate premium payments.

LD 1357 ensures that the maternity benefits offered by health insurance also include 12 months of postpartum care that meets the criteria of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This also applies to individual and group contractors provided by insurers and health care organizations.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists presented the Committee’s Recommendation in May 2018 and approved it in 2021, entitled “Improving postpartum care.” The concept takes the new postpartum care system as a continuous process, rather than meeting once every six weeks after birth, and requires services and support tailored to the patient’s needs. This new procedure is often referred to as “fourth trimester” care.

LD 1781 also made similar changes to postpartum treatment for insurers through MaineCare. Starting on Aug. 1, the spread will continue for a full 12 months after delivery, instead of just eight weeks. Getting treatment at a time when they are at risk of treatment will give new mothers good health outcomes and reduce the risk of maternal mortality. The health of their babies will be good and the treatment may provide relief from smoking cessation and drug abuse problems during the re-emergence of mothers.

Giving new children and parents a good start is very important, and this year Maine has taken steps to ensure that medical care is affordable and adequate for Maine families. Many of these new features use the medical bills that Maine leaves on the table. The three bills, taken together, have done an amazing job of helping the Mainers get the care they need, tackle the cost, and stay healthy.

I am very proud of the work we have done this year to make health care more accessible and affordable for Mainers. In these difficult times, we are improving economic security and providing medical care to new children and women so that Maine families can thrive.

As always, I have the great honor of representing you and your family in Augusta. If you need help or want to share your thoughts with me, call 207-287-1515 or email me [email protected] I would love to hear from you.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which includes Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. They can reach 207-287-1515 or [email protected]

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