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October 4, 2017

More than 150 small business owners endorse Medicaid expansion

The Maine Small Business Coalition reported that more than 150 Maine small business owners support a "Yes" vote on Question 2, the Medicaid expansion referendum question that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

If Maine voters approve the question it would expand access to Medicaid for about 70,000 Mainers.

Maine Hospital Association, which represents all of Maine's 36 community hospitals, also has come out in support of Question 2.

Maine Public reported that Brent Littlefield of the Maine Welfare to Work PAC said that another small-business group, the Maine branch of the National Federation of Independent Business, opposed expansion. Littlefield told Maine Public that Medicaid expansion could send the state budget into crisis.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce hasn't taken a position on the issue yet but will consider it during a board meeting next week, according to Maine Public.

Why some businesses support expansion

In a Maine Small Business Coalition news release, Tim Soley, the owner of the Hyatt Place Portland and several other businesses, spoke about the need to ensure that more Mainers have access to quality, affordable health care.

"I support expanding Medicaid because I believe there to be compelling moral, philosophical and business reasons demanding it," Soley said. "I want to make sure that no citizen is deprived of access to health care due to a lack of financial capacity. ... As more people get regular checkups and quality preventative care, they live healthier lives and avoid expensive trips to the emergency room. This leads to both healthier people AND lower health care costs for everyone."

Cate DiMarzio, a licensed clinical professional counselor who owns and operates a private behavioral health practice in Yarmouth, cited a Maine Center for Economic Policy estimate that expanding MaineCare would create more than 3,000 new permanent jobs in Maine.

"Expanding Medicaid will mean more Mainers can afford care and will mean more jobs for health care professionals like me," DiMarzio said.

Jim Britt also attended on behalf of Nate Barr, the owner of Zootility Tools in Portland, and read a written statement by Barr at the press conference describing why his manufacturing company supports passage of Question 2.

"Too many Mainers currently can't afford the basic health care coverage that means they can afford regular checkups and other types of preventative care," Barr said. "Instead they are forced to wait until they get very sick and go to the hospital, where care is much more expensive, and we all bear the cost. Expanding will help to hold down health care costs for everyone."

A list of the endorsing businesses can be found here.

For more information about the "Yes on 2" campaign go here.

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