MCCE political hit piece misses the point: PL90 saves Mainers money

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Clean Elections (MCCE) has issued a report linking the health insurance reform passed last year to greater contributions by Anthem to Republican candidates than in the past.

Republicans passed a health insurance reform law (LD 1333, now Public Law 90) in 2011 that has deregulated the insurance market, allowing insurers to charge lower rates for lower risk insureds, thus making health insurance more affordable for more people and bringing more people into the pool of contributors to the insurance market.  The law has had the following effects:

  • It is true, since PL 90, 90% of small businesses are seeing rate increases; but it is also true that prior to PL 90, 97% of small businesses were seeing rate increases.
  • In the individual market, rates for existing plans saw an increase of only 1.7% under PL 90, the lowest average increase on record.

New plans offered as of July 1, 2012 in the individual market and made possible by PL 90 feature an average rate decrease of 34%.

These are facts, not anecdotes of the kind that provide the linchpin for liberals’ arguments against PL 90.  But since the left seems so fixated on anecdotes, here’s one for them:  Sam Marcisso runs a 27-person plumbing and heating business in South Portland.  He faced a 15% premium hike before PL 90.  Afterward, however, his rates fell by 18%, saving him enough to add a new employee and another vehicle.

For decades, Democrats waged war on the private health insurance market in Maine in an attempt to pave the way for a single-payer system.  Even liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her opinion on the Obamacare case, pointed to Maine’s old system as a failed experiment, writing that the “results were disastrous.”

MCCE could well also have pointed out that the national health insurance lobby supported Obamacare, but because it forced individuals to buy their product.  PL 90 garners its support by introducing choice and competition, bringing more people into the health insurance market on their own accord.  With a healthier insurance market, more people can afford private insurance, insurers see more business after years of losing money on individual plans and being denied profit margins by regulators, and hospitals rely less on government programs like Medicaid which stuck them with over $400 million in unpaid bills under Democratic tutelage.

Furthermore, if concerned about the influence of money in politics, MCCE could look no further than their fellow liberal, billionaire hedge-fund manager Donald Sussman, who has provided the Maine Democratic Party with 30.5% of its funding, the Maine Senate Democrats’ PAC with 49% of its funding, and the Maine House Democrats’ PAC with 37% of its funding so far this year.

“When you enact good policy, people support your campaigns,” said Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen. “Mainers are paying less for health insurance than they would have without PL 90, and if private businesses want to support our candidates instead of the Democrats’, the Democrats shouldn’t be surprised after demonizing, taxing, and regulating the private sector to death for so many years.”

It should be noted that three Democratic senators – Bill Diamond, Nancy Sullivan, and Elizabeth Schneider – voted for PL 90.  All three were termed out and did not stand to benefit from contributions by the health insurance industry.  They voted for it simply because they recognized that our current path was unsustainable.  Senator Richard Woodbury, a liberal Independent and Harvard-trained economist, also voted for the health insurance reform.  He is a clean elections candidate who simply knew good policy when he saw it.

MCCE apparently notified Maine People’s Alliance spokesman Mike Tipping of their new report the day before it was released, so that he could write an article using it to bash Republicans.  They notified the Republican Speaker and Senate President the next day, along with everyone else.  Reporters covering this story should take note that MCCE is a leftist organization with its own motives, and by no means should the report they released today be considered objective.

It seems that after decades of implementing policies that have failed demonstrably, some people see fit to grasp for some reason to find ill intent behind a new policy that has been proven to be successful.


  1. Excellent article. I will pass it on to people who have told me they like what Gov. LePage has done so far. It’s important to keep his supporters’ spirits up and give them information they can use to combat the sure-to-come distortions from his detractors.

  2. Justice Ginsberg was pointing out the inability of any approach to a comprehensive healthcare solution to succeed without requiring universal participation.

    Pure free-market solutions simply cannot address this critical problem.

    This is what she actually said in explaining why seven states (including Maine) had had bad results:

    “When insurance companies are required to insure the sick at affordable
    prices, individuals can wait until they become ill to buy insurance.
    Pretty soon, those in need of immediate medical care—i.e., those who
    cost insurers the most—become the insurance companies’ main customers.
    This “adverse selection” problem leaves insurers with two choices: They
    can either raise premiums dramatically to cover their ever-increasing
    costs or they can exit the market.”

    In fact, her decision also points out that the Romney Plan in Massachusetts was the single example where a state government healthcare plan worked because the Commonwealth required most citizens to be in the pool of insureds.

    Free-markets work well for lots of things, but if a society is concerned about providing quality healthcare at reasonable costs for all of its citizens, there are better models.


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