NU Online News Service, June 13, 2003, 4:59 p.m. EDT – The Maine Senate is considering a bill, L.D. 1611, that would create a subsidized health insurance program for the state’s small businesses, self-employed people and individuals without access to employer-sponsored coverage.
Members of the state House voted 96-47 in favor of the bill Thursday.
The bill, which could impose a new fee on private health insurers, now lacks the two-thirds majority of votes it needs in the House for enactment, but the Senate strongly supports the bill and probably will vote to require only a majority vote, according to a report in the Portland Press Herald that calls final enactment “certain.”
Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, organized the effort to develop the program, which he is calling a “universal health program.”
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Rep. Christopher O’Neil, D-Saco, chair of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee and chair of the Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform, introduced L.D. 1611.
The bill would create Dirigo Health, a program that would buy health coverage for small businesses, self-employed people, individuals without access to coverage, and dependents of residents eligible for Dirigo Health program coverage.
The program would try to buy health coverage from private insurers, but it would set up its own, nonprofit insurer if private insurers declined to participate, according to the bill text.