U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today convened a conversation with health care experts and providers at Bridgton Hospital where they discussed the harmful impacts that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on rural hospitals across Maine and the people they serve.
During the discussion, Senator King heard from hospital leadership that a repeal of the landmark health care law would leave a substantial amount of their patients without health insurance, which would have serious, and in some cases, catastrophic, financial ramifications for hospitals. One-third of rural hospitals in Maine, Senator King was told, are already operating at a loss, and a repeal of the health care law would threaten their ability to stay open and serve their communities. If the hospitals closed, then not only would countless people in Maine go without vital health care services, but hospital employees would also be laid off, which would detrimentally affect their livelihoods and hurt the local economy.
“The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have a significant and far-reaching impact on Maine,” Senator King said. “Stripping tens of thousands of people of their health insurance is not only going to put lives at risk, but it’s also going to jeopardize the financial stability of rural hospitals. And that will only make health care services for people, especially those who live in rural areas, more difficult to obtain and more difficult to afford – and it will also could result in hospitals closing or downsizing, employees losing their jobs, and local economies suffering.
“The law isn’t perfect,” Senator King continued, “but rather than repeal it and risk havoc for people and hospitals across Maine, I hope we can discuss meaningful improvements or, at the very least, move forward first with a discussion of a replacement plan – because to leave people without health insurance and to threaten the stability of rural hospitals is just wrong.”
“Bridgton Hospital is thankful for Senator King’s visit today. He afforded our organization and this community a voice to express concerns over the proposed repeal of the ACA without a reasonable replacement in place first. A circumstance in which the ACA is repealed without a solid replacement option coupled with proposed cuts to hospitals at the State level would be catastrophic to many Maine hospitals and to hospitals throughout the country. We hope with Senator King’s leadership, Congress will soon arrive at a solution. We articulated to Senator King that Bridgton Hospital stands ready to provide assistance in developing workable solutions and would be happy to help in that effort,” said David Frum, President & CEO of Bridgton and Rumford Hospitals.
Additionally, Senator King expressed concerns during the discussion about how a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would prevent those battling drug and heroin addiction from obtaining the treatment they need to get better. In Maine last year, one person a day died from a drug overdose, a tragic record for the state. Senator King has made fighting the opioid epidemic one of his top priorities in the Senate.
Senator King opposes the repeal of the ACA, which would strip health care away from tens of millions of Americans, including more than 75,000 in Maine. Earlier this week, Senator King offered five amendments to legislation currently under consideration by the Senate that would preserve critical facets of the ACA. Last week, he also cosponsored an amendment that would stop efforts to dismantle the law, and he joined with several of his centrist colleagues in urging Senate leadership to discuss improvements to the law before rushing to fast-track a repeal of it.
Senator King also took to the Senate floor to share his personal story of how having health insurance saved his life and, later on, he once again spoke from the floor to share the stories of people from across Maine who have been helped by the ACA, some in lifesaving ways.
Bridgton Hospital live-streamed the conversation via Facebook. To watch an archived version, click HERE.