Mainers gathered at the State House in Augusta on June 30 in support of LD 718, a bill to provide health coverage for all adults who are immigrants. The bill was tabled until the 2022 legislative session. Advocates have vowed to make sure the bill passes in the next session.
“It is unacceptable that, for years, discriminatory policies have prevented thousands of low-income people in Maine from being able to access affordable health care options,” said bill sponsor Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland. “Health care is a human right, it’s as simple as that. I am proud of my colleagues for passing a bipartisan budget that funds children’s health coverage and prenatal and postpartum care for all people in low-income households, regardless of immigration status. However, our work is not over until all people in our state can access health care, and I’ll remain committed to standing with Mainers who are most impacted.”
Advocates of the bill noted that Maine experienced some of the largest health disparities for COVID-19, and many immigrants who are people of color put their health and the health of their families on the line to work essential jobs in health care, food production, and other industries that form the backbone of Maine’s economy.
“All other Mainers at the same income level have access to MaineCare. Why not immigrants?” asked Abdulkerim Said, director of the New Mainers Public Health Initiative.
Maine has provided health coverage for all Mainers in the past, but 10 years ago, the administration of former Gov. Paul LePage disqualified Mainers for MaineCare. Some of the many organizations that support the campaign to resume coverage again included Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Access Immigrant Network, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Equal Justice, Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, Maine People’s Alliance, New Mainers Public Health Initiative, and Presente! Maine.