HOUSE AND SENATE OVERRIDE VETO OF MEASURE ADDRESSING CHALLENGES FOR MAINECARE CHILDREN
AUGUSTA – In a final step to override Gov. LePage’s veto of a measure to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing inequities with quality of and access to dental, hearing, and vision care for MaineCare-eligible children, the House voted 118 to 21 to override.
Earlier this week, the Senate voted 24 to 10 to override the measure.
“I would like to think all MaineCare eligible children are receiving the services they need, but it’s clear there are growing gaps in coverage,” said Democratic State Senator Nate Libby, the sponsor of the measure. “Years of inadequate and reduced reimbursement rates have led to a myriad of problems among providers who feel a moral obligation to serve MaineCare-eligible children but have reached an untenable financial situation that has forced many providers to discontinue service to MaineCare-eligible children. Unfortunately, this has forced patients to search far and wide to find a provider who will see them.”
The Senate previously voted 35 to 0 in support of the measure.
The measure received broad support from dentists, optometrists, endodontists, the Maine Optometrists Association, and the Maine Hospital Association.
In addition to developing a strategy, the measure, as amended, directs the Department of Health and Human Services to identify impediments to access, and explore options for equalizing access for dental, hearing, and vision services.
“Rather than proposing just one more piecemeal adjustment to reimbursement rates, this large and complex issue warrants a more focused analysis,” said Sen. Libby. “It is time to explore the problems faced by providers and patients, and look to solutions found in other states.”
Additionally, the bill requires DHHS to consult with a diverse group of stakeholders including parents, caregivers, providers, practitioners, advocates, and trade associations when developing the strategy.
DHHS would be required to submit the proposed strategy to the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee by January 15, 2016.
The measure, LD 649, will become law 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.