July 5 – In Maine, due to quickly rising premiums, both individuals and small employers are being crunched out of the health insurance market; consequently, one in three Mainers are either uninsured or underinsured. Governor Angus King and the state legislature recently created a commission charged with developing a plan for the implementation of a single-payer, universal health care system in Maine for presentation to the legislature in March 2002.
The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation’s largest, independent medical student organization, enthusiastically commends the people of Maine, the state legislature, and the Governor for taking the bold step needed toward ensuring that all Mainers have access to comprehensive, high-quality health care. Maine has always demonstrated a pioneering spirit in health care, and this effort demonstrates Maine’s commitment to making high-quality health care accessible to everyone, said Jaya Agrawal, AMSA national president and a fourth-year medical student at Brown University. In a single-payer system, money is dedicated to the provision of health care, not insurance companies’ administrative costs, stock dividends, or CEO salaries, Agrawal continued. We know that with Maine’s continued determination, they will not merely demonstrate this fact, but ignore the special interests and become the first, but certainly not the last state, to implement a system that provides health care coverage of the highest quality for all residents of their state.
AMSA has supported a single payer health care system for more than 30 years. Just as medical students have been vocal proponents within the medical community of a Medicare-for-all system, Maine has led the nation in creating novel programs that serve as models for increased health care access. Recent studies in both Massachusetts and Maryland have shown that a single-payer system in those states would provide high quality health care for all citizens while saving millions of dollars.