Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Dirigo

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Editor
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Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Dirigo

quote:Originally posted by Bob Stone:
[b]Why do you think the unions are having a fit? :D [/b]

Dirigo would have no impact on existing arrangements. The schools would still pay what they pay. The unions are concerned, like anyone with health insurance should be, that the plan will drive up their costs and reduce the quality of care.

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Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Dirigo

Maine Sunday Telegram
Sunday, June 8, 2003
New health plan flawed, business group charges By TED COHEN, Portland Press Herald WriterCopyright © 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.   A new health insurance plan backed by Gov. John Baldacci would place too heavy a financial burden on Maine businesses, the state's largest regional chamber of commerce charged Saturday.Godfrey Wood, chief executive officer of the 1,320-member Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce, said Baldacci's health care reform package would force businesses to shoulder too large a percentage of insurance premiums. "We believe that the financing plan to accomplish affordable insurance for businesses and employees is flawed," Wood said. "Their requirement that employers pay 55 percent of the premium for all employees is a lot more than most employers are currently able to pay."Wood made his views known in the wake of Friday's legislative compromise, which was reached largely with the support of business and labor interests. The compromise was designed to help provide health insurance coverage for Mainers who don't have it.But Wood said that "last-minute negotiations and compromises" can't fix what he called "fundamental flaws" in the latest plan. Lee Umphrey, who is Baldacci's chief spokesman, defended the latest plan, as did state Sen. Sharon Treat, D-Farmingdale, chief sponsor of the health reform bill.Umphrey said the compromise involved several constituencies, including representatives from business."So I would think that either the Portland chamber isn't tuned in to the specifics of that compromise, or are just interested in an 11th-hour grandstanding ploy to further delay or prevent affordable health care from happening," he said.Treat said she believes that some dissension is inevitable, "but I'm not sure what else can be done to make people feel more comfortable." She said the compromise was designed to spread the costs among a number of groups to make it more palatable. "Everybody is sharing in it," she said.The Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform voted 9-5 Friday to support the health care package, which could reach the House for a vote this week. The panel backed an amendment easing the assessment that health insurers would pay to help finance the plan. The approved amendment calls for the state to provide start-up funding of $53 million for the first year of operation of a new Dirigo Health program.Wood, whose organization plans Monday to further publicize its opposition to the plan, said one of the insurance proposal's goals was to make it affordable for businesses, "and we don't believe it is. It's not more affordable than what is currently on the market.""We can't see why employers are going to start offering health insurance where they already can't afford it," he said, "and this would require them to pay more premiums than two-thirds of them already pay."Wood said the only way the plan can meet its projected costs is by reducing benefits and requiring employees to pay more for their share of the coverage.Whereas the chamber initially believed the health care proposal was salvageable through amendment, "we now believe all of the sources of money to accomplish this plan are suspect," Wood said. "We highly doubt the current financing plan can be successful."The chamber instead is calling for phased-in health reform, first by improving the health care delivery system's financial efficiency, and then by dealing specifically with health insurance coverage.Treat called on skeptics to give the plan a chance. "There are never going to be any changes unless people are willing to stick their toe in the water and see what happens," she said.
Staff Writer Ted Cohen can be contacted at 282-8225 or at:tcohen@pressherald.com
[url=http://www.pressherald.com/news/statehouse/030608healthplan.shtml]http:/...

Bob Stone
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

The special committee isn't concerned. 9 voted to support it without even seeing the bill. :D

Jon Reisman
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

The legislature will pass Dirigo on a largely party line vote this week, with a number of R's supporting it.Editorials in the major dailies will lavish praise on the "visionary" leaders supporting the bill, and say bad things about uncaring R's and selfish interests opposing the bill.Susan and Olympia will support Dirigo, and pressure the Bush administration to fund the Medicaid request in it.Wanna bet?

Bob Stone
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

It will be a classic study in liberalism, that is:1. Create a 'crisis'
2. Legislate a solution
3. Watch it 'blow up' in their faces
4. Blame the conservatives for the failure.When (not if) the Democrats and Art Mayo pass this, Maine's one step closer to a national park.

Melvin Udall
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

Bob:Step 5: fix the problem by legislating a new and far more expensive approachStep 6: go to step 3

Melvin Udall
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

It requires employers to pay 55% of premiums? Our school department pays 90% or more depending on the plan; the town pays 85% of municipal employees premiums. Just think of the tax savings if it were only 55% in each case!!

Bob Stone
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Re: Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce: Thumbs Down on Di

Why do you think the unions are having a fit? :D

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