Good morning from Augusta. The man behind Republicans’ latest bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act is touting its effect on Maine, but we can’t figure out what he’s talking about as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins looks primed to vote against it.
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said that a group of states including Maine will see ‘billions more dollars’ for coverage. The Republican doctor and architect of the Graham-Cassidy bill told CNN on Wednesday that it would help the people in Maine and other states “who have been passed over by Obamacare.”
But his office hasn’t provided the data. When the Daily Brief asked Cassidy’s office in a Wednesday email to provide his figures, spokesman Ty Bofferding replied, “We are locking down the numbers now so I will send them to you once I have final numbers.” We haven’t gotten any yet.
It’s the opposite of what outside analyses are saying. Estimates from outside groups haven’t been kind to the Graham-Cassidy plan. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has said it would cut federal health care coverage in Maine by more than $1 billion by 2027. A Wednesday analysis from the health consulting company Avalere basically concurred.
This is unlikely to soothe Collins and leaders may have stopped trying to convince her. The Maine Republican told ABC News on Tuesday that she’s “leaning no” on the bill. Politico said she’s seen as a “hard no.” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also opposes it, so leaders may try to head off a third, fatal Republican defection by working on skeptical Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who alongside Collins killed the last repeal effort in July. Leaders want to vote next week, but they’ve got a big job.
At the same time, Collins is looking to tweak the Affordable Care. Act. The Sun Journal reported she introduced a last-minute bill alongside Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, to provide $2.25 billion a year to states that establish invisible high risk pool or reinsurance programs.
- Maine hasn’t figured out how to put court documents online yet, but it may limit access to them once they do. We’re one of only of a few states that doesn’t post court files online. A task force is trying to fix that, but the BDN’s Jake Bleiberg got a draft version of their plan and it says documents available at a court now should only be available online to lawyers and clients to maintain “practical obscurity.” Transparency types aren’t happy and the court system isn’t being, well, transparent: State House press corps dean and task force member Mal Leary told Jake that once he started asking questions, the court system told members not to discuss it.
- The Cumberland County sheriff says he won’t hold inmates beyond release dates for federal immigration issues. Sheriff Kevin Joyce notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sept. 14, saying holding inmates past those dates is unconstitutional and could open the county to lawsuits. An ICE spokesperson called it an “extreme step.”
- Two Maine groups are suing the state over who can perform abortions. The Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood said in a suit filed Wednesday that nurse practitioners and midwives should be allowed to perform abortion services. Current Maine law allows only physicians.
- Seven doctors have resigned from Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth. An orthopedic surgeon who once worked there told Maine Public it’s an example of a the hospital’s caustic relationship with employees, but the hospital’s president attributed it to normal turnover.
- A Rockland woman says she’d rather go to jail than take down her pro-Donald Trump signs. A codes enforcement officer has notified the woman that she is violating a local ordinance, which could cost her more than $100 a day in fines.
Medicaid is ‘insurance,’ after all
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap ceded to pressure from conservative groups who objected to his calling Medicaid “health insurance” in a referendum question that asks Mainers to expand the state’s taxpayer-funded MaineCare program, which is Maine’s version of Medicaid.
Dunlap replaced “insurance” with “healthcare coverage,” winning praise from Medicaid expansion opponents.
But, as the BDN’s health reporter Jackie Farwell discovered Wednesday, the state’s MaineCare application says “Application for Health Insurance” right across the top, in bold and highlighted in green. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.