Community Health Options CEO Kevin Lewis isn’t backing down from his commitment to making health care more accessible to low-income Mainers, despite every curveball imaginable being thrown at him from Washington.

Lewis runs an Affordable Care Act health insurance provider – one of only two left in Maine – at a time when congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are doing everything they can to undermine the Obama-era law.

“It’s made it harder for sure,” Lewis said, “but if anything, the team has only strengthened its resolve to move forward and carry out our mission.”

Community Health is the only insurance provider in Maine created specifically to offer medical coverage plans on the ACA marketplace. After a successful first year in 2014, the cooperative ran into financial problems. It suffered operating losses of $31 million in 2015 and $58 million in 2016.

However, Community Health managed to turn things around for the most part in 2017. Lewis noted that it was a team effort – the co-op has a staff of 145 people. He said Community Health was on track to meet its 2017 revenue goals as of the third quarter but will suffer a shortfall in the fourth quarter because President Trump decided to cut off reimbursement for a key subsidy.

Despite that setback, the co-op is adding new members and has priced its policies to endure in 2018 and beyond. Based on new enrollment activity, Lewis anticipates covering about 45,000 Mainers in 2018 who might not otherwise have health insurance, up from 38,500 in late 2017.

“That’s why we got into this in the first place,” he said. “I knew it would be challenging, but I never could have predicted the hurdles and barriers that would be thrown our way.”

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