The LePage administration has made improving the business climate in Maine a priority. The governor has signed regulatory reform into law, established a small-business advocate and declared that Maine is open for business. These are significant steps forward.

That’s why I’m so confounded by the governor’s proposal to raid the Fund for Healthy Maine, which would end certain preventive public health programs.

This action would harm one of Maine’s foremost business advantages. When business leaders were surveyed by Maine Development Foundation/ Maine State Chamber of Commerce a few years ago, they ranked Maine’s work force as one of our top business assets. The diligence and reliability of our workers are touted with great pride and used to attract businesses, investors and workers to Maine.

These same business leaders cited health care costs as the No. 1 impediment to investing in their businesses. What might have been spent on innovation or infrastructure was gobbled up by temporary staffing costs because of absenteeism or diminished customer service and product quality from workers who showed up, but were too sick to perform well.

Without question, the most cost-effective way to protect and support the strength of our work force — and sustain and even enhance our business climate — is by providing preventive programs such as those funded by the Fund for Healthy Maine.

These programs help Mainers get and stay healthy so they can continue to be a distinguished, productive work force. The programs also help businesses and employers contain some of their greatest health care costs.

The LePage administration has taken meaningful steps toward improving Maine’s business climate. Raiding the Fund for Healthy Maine and ending the preventive programs it funds, however, would be a giant step backward.

Jean Grigsby


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