Listening to the national news may lead one to believe that the only solution to rising health insurance costs lies in Washington, D.C. Maine lawmakers have proved Washington wrong.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that most of President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law is constitutional. The Court found that the individual mandate is a tax, allowing Washington’s one-size-fits-all solution to live on to restrict state efforts to reform their own health care markets.

While the spotlight was cast on national health insurance reform, Maine took its own approach, adopting market-based solutions to Maine’s unique problems. Many other states relied on Washington to solve their problems, and the solution Washington came up with was, naturally, another tax. As a matter of fact, it is the largest tax increase in American history.

In the past year, as a member of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee, I have helped my fellow lawmakers take decisive and positive action in reforming health care in Maine in the face of uncertain and detrimental federal laws. Public Law 90, Maine’s health care reform, was passed by the majority with bipartisan support.

The old law required that the lowest insurance premium could not be any less than two-thirds of the highest premium, which priced many young, healthy people out of the market. PL 90 changes the law to allow the lowest premiums to be just one-third of the highest premiums. This reduces the cost of health insurance, especially for the young and healthy, bringing them into the insurance market and driving down costs for everybody by expanding the insurance pool.

PL 90 brings more people into the insurance market, not by forcing them to and taxing them if they don’t, asObamacare does, but by making insurance more affordable by shaking off arbitrary and destructive price controls. It lets people retain choice in selecting their health insurance plans, instead of mandating a slate of government-designed options.

The effects of these changes on the average person are now being seen and the outcome is clear: Maine’s health care reform law is a success. Several businesses have reported a decrease in premiums of up to 69 percent, with many reporting between 20 and 25 percent reductions. More than three times as many businesses are seeing rate decreases now that the new law has taken effect.

A respected independent analytical firm, Gorman Actuarial LLC, projects that the long-term effect of the law will reduce the average premium by 12 to 15 percent in the individual market. Gorman also projects that there will be a 10 percent increase in enrollment in the individual health insurance market as younger and healthier people take advantage of lower premiums. It’s prediected these newer and younger entrants into the market will cut premiums by an additional 5 percent by 2014.

Gorman projections are demonstrated by new health insurance offerings in Maine. Starting July 1, Anthem offers new plans with a 60 percent lower premiums for young adults and 40 percent for those over age 50. Anthem requested an average rate increase for individual plans of just 1.7 percent for the upcoming year — the smallest increase since 1994. Without PL 90, Mainers with individual Anthem plans would instead be facing a 21 percent rate increase in the same year, according to the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

One of the best features of PL 90 will be implemented in the years ahead. Everyone will have access to the policies of other New England states. This means that if a policy similar to yours is available in New Hampshire for half the cost, as of 2014 you will be able to reduce your insurance costs immediately by buying across state lines.

We do not need Washington-style, mandate-driven health care reform in Maine. We have made significant progress in creating a Maine-based solution to solve problems with access to health insurance and health care.

Now that Obamacare is the law, it will weigh on this nation and our state with increased taxes, burdening debt and overregulation of Maine’s legislative process. There is still more progress that can be made without “help” from Washington. Legislators will not be content until everyone in Maine has access to affordable, quality health care without fear of bankruptcy and without being overly dependent on government bureaucrats.

I will continue with work to help develop new reforms that allow better access to health care for everyone without jeopardizing Maine’s future fiscal stability, burdening future generations or removing personal choice from the equation.

Rep. Susan Morissette, R-Winslow, is on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee and Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

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