Many government agencies help individuals provide food for their families. Other government programs help provide low- to no-cost health insurance such as MaineCare, which is Maine’s version of Medicaid to families. The government’s programs, however, are helpful only if a person qualifies. To qualify, a person usually must have children.

Young women and men who are between the ages of 19 and 21 cannot qualify for MaineCare unless they continue to live with their parents, and their parents must meet the income qualifications to be eligible. This is discrimination against women who choose not to reproduce or cannot have children. Women should not have to be either pregnant or have children already in order to qualify for MaineCare.

This means that if a Mainer between the ages of 19-21 doesn’t live with their parents and does not have children of their own, they do not qualify for any health care coverage under MaineCare. For people living below the poverty line, there are no other low-cost alternatives.

Maine had the option of expanding their MaineCare with the Affordable Care Act of 2010, but it was decided for us by our governor that we would not expand our MaineCare program to include young adults and women without children.

The United States, Maine included, needs to stop devaluing young adults who choose not to have children. They deserve the same privilege of good, low-cost health care as those who are elderly, disabled or have children.

Roberta D. SantilliOakland