A coalition of advocacy groups is launching a statewide newspaper and radio advertising campaign to urge the Legislature to expand Medicaid for nearly 70,000 uninsured residents.

AARP Maine, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association announced they will begin running ads on Tuesday asking voters to call their representatives in the state Legislature and encourage them to accept federal funds to expand the program under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

“Maine has an opportunity to expand access to health care to thousands of people, while also reducing health care costs and providing a boost to our economy,” Becky Smith, director of government relations for the American Heart Association in Maine, said in a news release from the groups.

“Despite working hard every day, too many Maine people are just one illness or one accident away from financial ruin because they lack access to affordable, adequate health care coverage,” John Hennessy, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Maine, said in the release.

“Federal dollars are already set aside for Maine. We should put them to work making a difference in our state,” said Hilary Schneider, state government relations and advocacy director for American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

In addition to the ads, the Cover Maine Now! Coalition, which includes the sponsors of the ads, is collecting signatures on a petition supporting the expansion. The coalition supports legislation introduced by Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, to authorize Maine to accept federal dollars to expand access to health care.

Under the national health care reform law, the federal government will be reimbursed 100 percent of the cost of the expanded Medicaid coverage for three years, then 90 percent after that.

Gov. Paul LePage has expressed willingness to participate in Medicaid expansion, but also said he is seeking the best deal. LePage’s administration has told the Obama administration that Maine will consider participating in the expansion if the federal government pays for affected recipients for 10 years.

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