Maine Governor Inks Universal Health Care Bill

June 19, 2003 ( - Maine Governor John Baldacci has inked what he described as a "bold and comprehensive" bill to give thousands of Maine residents who lack health insurance access to coverage.

Besides expanding access to affordable insurance coverage by 2009 to all Mainers who need it, the new law takes steps to lower health care costs through voluntary pricing caps and a hold on new facilities while ensuring high quality of care, according to the Associated Press.

“We in Maine don’t wait for some ship to come in from Washington to help us,” Baldacci said during a signing ceremony. “We build our own ships. So we have with Dirigo Health.”

Utilizing private insurers to provide a standard package of benefits to uninsured Mainers, Dirigo will expand coverage through MaineCare and create a pay-what-you-can system. A family of four with a gross annual income of $55,000 would qualify for a discounted premium. An individual with a gross income of $27,000 would also be eligible.

The program will be funded by federal grants and the former Medicaid program, now called MaineCare, payments by subscribers and participating businesses and cost savings resulting from less charity care and bad debt.

The Democratic governor’s bill was passed with more than two-thirds majorities Friday hours before lawmakers adjourned their 2003 session (See Maine Universal Health Bill Set to Become Law).