Maine AllCare News – June 2018


Because “Health care is at the top of a group of issues that voters want 2018 midterm candidates to talk about” (Kaiser Family Foundation) the Portland Chapter of Maine AllCare recently sent out a brief questionnaire to the state’s 16 gubernatorial and Cumberland County’s 73 legislative candidates to determine how they stand on the issue. The goal was two-fold: to inform the public of the various candidates’ positions prior to the primaries, and to engender a conversation with our politicians on the topic.

These were the questions, moving from the theoretical to the practical:
Question 1 – Do you think all Maine residents should have life-long, ready access to all needed health care?
Question 2 – If so, do you think the state government should be responsible for ensuring that they do?
Question 3 – Will you support a publicly funded system of privately provided care for all Maine citizens? If not, what sort of system do you support?

As of May 28 we had received 9 responses from the 16 gubernatorial candidates and 30 from the 73 legislative candidates, for an overall response rate of 44%.  Check out the results, note the candidate responses and read our analysis here.

Our analysis was also featured in the Maine Voices column of the Portland Press Herald on May 30:


An Inspiration for Maine: A Mother’s Story from Sweden

Swedish_healthcare.jpgOn June 25th, from 6:15 to 8:15 pm, Greater Brunswick Chapter members are hosting a house party focused on a conversation about the Swedish healthcare system and how, in contrast, the US system is failing us all. Those who attend will see a short movie about the Swedish healthcare system and hear one mother’s moving story about her pregnancy, childbirth and the care she has received in Sweden during the first 3 years of her daughter’s life. The Chapter hopes to provide inspiration to the people who attend so that they leave understanding how we can achieve universal, high quality and affordable health care for the people of Maine by working together. For more information visit our website calendar. To RSVP, contact

Portland Chapter Members Share Their Perspectives

Editors note: In addition to the recent Maine Voices column by Dr. Dan Bryant, three Portland chapter members had letters printed in the Portland Press Herald, describing health care in Tennessee, Northern Ireland, and Canada. The letters were also picked up by national organizations including Maine AllCare’s parent organization Physicians for a National Health Program and Health Over Profit for Everyone (HOPE), an organization spearheaded by Dr. Margaret Flowers of Maryland. Here are summaries and links to the Portland letters:

Maine Families in Dire Need of a Single Payer Health Care System

tennessee.jpgMy grandmother recently turned 91. She lives on a farm in Tennessee…Even with the best medical care, her bills have increased over the years. Thus, with as much time as my extended family spends with her, the amount of time set aside for bills is always increasing…
…even if you are happy and healthy, remember the individuals who are not. Remember the individuals who do not have time with their families. Going forward as a state, our path is clear: We must embrace single-payer health care.  Philip Gibson

Link to the full letter –

Experience Abroad Proves Single Payer Health Care is a Blessing, Not a Curse

northern-ireland-flag-std_2.jpgI am an American with dual Irish-American citizenship, and lived in Northern Ireland for six years under the British National Health Service. While there, I was diagnosed with a cancer that required major surgery, 26 weeks of chemotherapy and five years of follow-up monitoring, including many scans and blood tests….
…[no one] who lives with the security and freedom of guaranteed health care would ever choose the American non-system, which is unreliable (unless you are very rich), ineffective regarding health outcomes, unfair and very expensive. It is, in fact, what they most fear.  Nancy O’Hagan

Link to the full letter –

Canada’s Single Payer System Works

Canadian_flag.jpgIn his letter to the editor May 2, Don Vose of Naples argued that a single-payer health care system would not serve us well, referring in part to Canadians “forgoing” their single-payer system.
This may be a commonly held view, but it is not accurate. A poll by Nanos Research found that 86.2 percent of Canadians support the single-payer system and want to strengthen it, rather than move toward a private insurance-based model…I have experienced both health care systems after marrying a U.S. citizen and moving to Maine. In Canada I had a great doctor, could stop in any walk-in clinic in town if I needed and was always able to access the specialist care I required…
Bottom line: If you want everyone to have access to good medical care, move toward single-payer and away from the current profit-based system.  Hillary Barter

Link to the full letter –

Waldo County Chapter Launch Party a Huge Success

Belfast_Launch_Party.jpgFolks from all over Waldo County and beyond congregated at the Belfast Boathouse on Saturday night for what Maine AllCare’s co-founder Phil Caper, MD deemed, “. . . a spectacularly successful event – well planned, innovative, well attended and most of all – a lot of fun!” The Belfast Fiddlers played toe-tapping music and the evening sun shone through the doors.  Music, speeches, and conversation were followed by several rounds of “Health Care Jeopardy,” a game show revealing surprising information on the state of health care in America. 

Read more here:

Join the Parade of People Who Support Maine AllCare

Several enthusiastic Maine AllCare supporters were in the lead of the Searsmont Memorial Day parade.

If you’d like to show your support for healthcare for EVERYONE in Maine, sign up to march in your local summer parades. Maine AllCare will provide banners, signs and hand-outs, while you provide the enthusiasm!



Legislative Task Force Continues Its Work

The Task Force on Health Care Coverage for All of Maine continued its deliberations at a meeting on May 23rd.  They received an update on Maine’s submission to the federal government for a Section 1332 waiver under the ACA to re-establish and fund a reinsurance program for Maine. Other incremental changes were discussed, including improving access to data about insurance claims, controlling drug costs via importation from Canada, and standardizing billing. Senator Geoff Gratwick reminded the Task Force members that they were meeting because of patients, and because people are dying due to lack of access to healthcare. Representative Heather Sanborn reminded the task force that its mandate was to recommend 3 health plans for further study. The Task Force and its committees plan to continue meeting in the fall. For detailed reports, see the March and April newsletters.


Our health care system is killing us:  an editorial by Jennifer Perkins, MD

Juneau Empire; May 28, 2018

How much longer are we going to tolerate incremental approaches to fix a broken health care system that feeds off disease and profits on the sick? Extremely high health care costs have become so common place that we rarely question them…

…Our health care system is killing us. Literally thousands of people die every year from lack of insurance. Figuratively, lives are forever altered by too many unnecessary, profitable medical procedures and too little focus on preventative health. Health care costs for families skyrocket, shifted from ever-wealthier insurance companies. Teachers fight tooth and nail for mediocre coverage while their wages stagnate. Small businesses flounder under the unpredictable burden of providing employee plans. Large businesses lose competitive advantage on the international stage. Health care consumes a dominant chunk of state budgets (35 percent in Alaska), while its hardworking residents remain without insurance or inadequately covered.
In other industrialized nations, hardship from medical expenses is rare. All provide some version of universal coverage, liberating citizens from the stress of medical bills when coping with accident or illness, and at a much lower cost. Our market-based system has failed us. The time for single payer is now.
In a single payer system, everyone is covered by a comprehensive health plan that is publically funded but privately delivered. This allows innovation in health care delivery by privately owned physician groups and hospital systems. The government does not run your health care, they pay for it. In fact, they already are. The federal government spends more per person than in most countries that provide universal coverage. We match the feds with individual contributions and still do not get better outcomes. Sweden, considered one of the best systems in the world, spends about half and pays people when they are sick. By centralizing the payer, we shift incentives from procedures to prevention and contain outrageous costs.
Some say that definitive reform is out of reach, that it is not politically viable. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Yes, we are a country that contains extremes of values and opinions, of independence and free market priorities, and we all have bodies that may fail us at unpredictable times. It is time to demand a system that promotes our health and protects us from financial hardship when ill.

To view the full editorial as published:

• Jennifer Perkins is a family physician in Anchorage and founder of the Alaska chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.

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