As a health care provider, I am deeply concerned about the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, which is meant to address surprise billing, but will do anything but lower costs, and instead make a bad situation worse for much of Maine’s rural residents.

Currently, 40 percent of Mainers live in rural areas that are already struggling economically. Their lives are further complicated by the fact that they are often hours away from the nearest primary care doctor, let alone a specialist.

The problem with this bill is that it relies on government-mandated price controls and gives far too much power to insurance companies. Since there is often only one insurer in rural areas of Maine, medical providers in these parts often have no choice but to accept what is usually a less than fair rate. This will force already struggling rural providers to close their doors.

I’m already worried about the lack of resources for Maine’s most vulnerable citizens; many of them are already the only source of mental health care and addiction treatment. The services they provide save lives, but the current insurance landscape means they cannot afford to stay open much longer. Adding price controls to the mix gives insurance companies an even larger advantage over rural health care providers.

If passed as written, this bill will lead to longer lines, longer waits for life-saving care, and shorter lives for a rural population already facing many challenges. I urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose this bill.

 

Leslie Herrick

West Gardiner

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