In LePage’s Maine, health coverage looks more like the South than New England

The year’s governor’s race will clearly and indisputably affect how many Mainers will have health coverage and thus how many will suffer and die prematurely.

A map, based on data from Civis Analytics and Enroll America, shows health insurance coverage by county.

While every state but New England has counties mostly in the 0-10% with a few in the 10-12% range, nearly all of Maine is over 12%, with some areas in the 14-16% range.

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As a news report on this data notes, state policies and governors really matter:

That state boundaries are so prominent in the map attests to the power of state policy in shaping health insurance conditions. The most important factor in predicting whether an American who had no insurance in 2013 signed up this year was whether the state that person lives in expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. 

Maine looks more like the South than New England.

In fact, nearly all of the Northeast looks better than Maine. The closest of the northeastern states to Maine is Pennsylvania, another state that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.

As this graphic shows, the decision to expand Medicaid had a huge impact on how many people got covered.

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Given their strong ideological opposition to public health insurance, perhaps it’s not surprising that both Gov. LePage and Pennsylvania’s governor hired Gary Alexander to advise them on health policy.

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General was shocked Maine had hired Alexander, since his office had turned up problems with his work. LePage allies then mounted an attack on the Auditor. Alexander went on to produce shoddy, plagiarized work.

Overall, the “national uninsured rate for adults under 65 fell to 11 percent from 16 percent.” Ten million got coverage and therefore have a greater chance to live longer, healthier lives.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Maine people have been left behind.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.