The Governor of Maine, Janet Mills (D), signed a bill into law on March 19 that adjusted state healthcare laws to match the ACA. The measure was introduced in January by President of the Senate Troy Jackson (D) and in the House by the Speaker of the House Sara Gideon.
The law codified the ACA into state law so “…critical healthcare protections for Maine people [will not be left] to the whims of Congress or the Court,” according to Mills. The law:
- allows children to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26.
- requires coverage for essential health benefits.
- does not allow the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- prohibits charging seniors much higher rates based on their age.
- does not allow lifetime and annual caps on coverage.
This law was signed with an emergency preamble, meaning it took effect when it was approved, as opposed to 90 days after adjournment, which is customary for the state.
This Maine law comes at a time of uncertainty for the future of the ACA. There is now a Democratic majority in the House so a repeal of the ACA is not currently on the table. However, in December a federal judge in Texas struck down the ACA’s individual mandate as unconstitutional, thus determining the rest of the law could not stand. A group of 17 attorneys general led by California’s Xavier Becerra will appeal this decision. Though a stay was issued two weeks after the decision that maintained that the ACA would remain in place while the case moves through the legal system, states are still concerned that provisions of the ACA they believe strengthen healthcare in the state, such as the pre-existing condition provision, will disappear. Other states that have been working toward protecting ACA coverage provisions include Nevada, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.