Earlier this year, Maine missed the critical opportunity to accept millions of dollars in federal funds to expand affordable health care in our state.

Because Maine declined these federal funds during the last legislative session, tens of thousands of vulnerable, lower-income Mainers, many of whom are 50 to 64 years old, will not have access to subsidized coverage through the health exchanges.

These are hardworking Mainers. Some have lost their jobs. Others are in low-paying jobs that do not provide health insurance coverage. Leaving people uninsured without access to primary and preventive care can jeopardize even the most careful preparation for health and financial security in later life. 

We know about too many people in our state whose nest eggs have eroded because of their health care costs. Accepting these federal dollars in 2014 will help put an end to this problem for so many of our friends and family who are grappling with their living expenses and putting their health care needs on hold. 

On behalf of our 230,000 AARP members and their families, we urge our elected leaders to do the right thing in 2014 and expand health care coverage for all hardworking Mainers.

Rich Livingston, AARP Maine
Volunteer state president
Auburn