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Maine Hospital's Dilemma: Improved Care Shrinks Bottom Line
06/11/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Under the Affordable Care Act, the quality of health care you receive is supposed to improve. Hospitals, for example, are expected to reduce readmissions, cut down on unnecessary tests. But these are the kinds of services that have been the bread and butter of hospitals for years. Take them away, and the hospital loses money. So the challenge for hospitals is how to increase quality and still stay in business. Patty Wight visited one hospital in western Maine that's grappling with that task, and tonight she has the first of two reports on what she found out.

Harvard Pilgrim to Join Maine Exchange
06/03/2014 05:36 PM ET

Harvard Pilgrim's vice president for Maine says, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the nonprofit insurer will offer plans on the exchange starting in January.

For Some, Affordable Care Act Provides Key to 'Job Lock'
06/02/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

For decades, the best way to get good health insurance in the U.S. has been through the workplace. But with the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, health insurance doesn't have to be tied to a job anymore. It's allowing some people to escape so-called "job lock" - saying with a job purely for the health benefits. And while critics of the ACA worry that the law will encourage companies to cut staff and hours to avoid insurance mandates, some Maine workers say new insurance options have freed them to pursue their career ambitions. Patty Wight reports.

5 Companies to Offer Health Plans in New Hampshire
06/02/2014 11:51 AM ET

Maine Community Health Options will start offering plans in New Hampshire's Rockingham, Strafford, Carroll and Coos counties, and plans to expand its reach later in the year.

Medicaid Expansion Fails in Maine For a Third Time
04/11/2014 12:10 PM ET

The Senate voted 22-13 on Friday, falling two votes short of the two-thirds support needed to override the Republican governor's veto.

Maine Gov Vetoes Medicaid Expansion Bill
04/09/2014 04:02 PM ET

In his veto message, Gov. Paul LePage says Maine can't afford to expand the program, and can't trust federal promises of funds to cover the costs.

Maine House Gives Initial OK to Universal Health Care Study
04/01/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Supporters of universal health care are applauding an initial vote in the Maine House today that would authorize a study of implementing such a system in Maine. It's not the first time the issue has been studied in the state. But as Patty Wight reports, it's the first time supporters say the idea has gotten traction.

On ACA Deadline, King Presses for Changes to Health Care Law
03/31/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Today is the last day to sign up for insurance on the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace. Though it will take time for the full implications of the law to become clear, Maine Sen. Angus King says some changes are already in order. The independent congressman is co-sponsoring three bills to improve the federal health law for businesses and employees. As Patty Wight reports, reactions are mixed as to whether these are the right changes at the right time.

Federal Officials: Maine ACA Sign-ups Beating Projections as Deadline Looms
03/27/2014 Reported By:Irwin Gratz  

The Obama administration now says anyone who begins the process of signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by Monday will be given up to two weeks to complete the process. The days leading up to Monday's deadline has the administration mounting a major publicity effort that brought regional Health and Human Services Director Christie Hager, and regional Small Business Administration head Seth Goodall to MPBN's studios this week. Hager points out that Maine, unlike other states, has seen sign-ups run ahead of projections.

Survey Details Mainers' Struggles with Health Care Costs
03/26/2014 02:01 PM ET

A new survey indicates that before the rollout of Obamacare health plans, Mainers - with and without insurance -struggled to pay health care costs.

Federal Cuts Leave Maine Hospitals Facing Deficits
03/14/2014 Reported By:Jay Field  

Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor is facing a $7 million deficit, due in large part to lower reimbursement rates from the government and a larger-than-expected surge in charity care. It's a similar story at medical centers across the state. Hospitals knew that certain Medicare cuts were coming under the Affordable Care Act. But enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges - at least so far - hasn't led to the reduction in charity care that was expected.

Senate Vote Leaves Future of Medicaid Expansion in Maine Uncertain
03/12/2014 Reported By:A.J. Higgins  

A bipartisan plan to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of Maine residents won strong support in an initial vote today in the Maine Senate, but fell two votes short of the majority needed to override a promised veto from the governor. As amended, the bill would allow Maine to take advantage of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But it also contains an opt-out provision if the federal government fails to deliver promised reimbursements. Republicans oppose the plan on the basis of principle and costs. A.J. Higgins has more.

Maine Alternative Health Care Providers Seek Place at ACA Table
03/12/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Of the thousands of pages that make up the Affordable Care Act, alternative medicine providers are paying a lot of attention to one paragraph in particular:  Section 2706 says that insurance companies can't discriminate against any health provider with a state-recognized license. It's supposed to open insurance companies' doors to include alternative medicine in network plans. But as Patty Wight reports, the reality isn't proving to be as inclusive as some had hoped.

Glut of ACA Sign-Ups Inundates Maine Insurers
02/28/2014 Reported By:Tom Porter  

When David and Robin Millward moved to Ogunquit, Maine, in November from London, England, they knew that getting health insurance coverage was a priority - perhaps even more of a priority for them because David has an hereditary heart condition. And so, like thousands of others residents of the Pine Tree State, they enrolled with Maine Community Health Options - one of the two health insurance companies available under the state's online marketplace. (The other one is Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.) But the Millwards say their experience so far leaves a lot to be desired - and the company acknowledges that an unexpectedly high number of enrollees caught them off guard. Tom Porter has more.

LePage: Medicaid Expansion 'Bad for the Environment'
02/26/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The day after a proposed compromise to Medicaid expansion was unveiled by two Maine Senate Republicans, the LePage administration has launched a counter-offensive. The administration said today that "Medicaid expansion is bad for the environment." Commissioners from state natural resource agencies gathered with Department of Health and Human Services officials to make their case, as lawmakers were preparing to take up the Medicaid expansion bill this afternoon. Patty Wight reports.

Maine GOP Lawmakers' Medicaid Expansion Plan Faces Uphill Fight
02/25/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

A compromise plan to expand Medicaid in Maine is on the table. Two Republican lawmakers drafted the proposal that would move the state's Medicaid program to a managed care model, in a bid to contain costs and appease Republicans opposed to expanding the program. But as Patty Wight reports, the plan doesn't seem to be convincing key GOP lawmakers to embrace expansion.

Planned Medicare Advantage Cuts Get Mixed Reaction in Maine
02/24/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that it plans to cut funding to the Medicare Advantage program in 2015. The cuts are part of the Affordable Care Act. And while some say the move will take money away from some effective health programs, others say it's needed to bring overall health care costs down. Patty Wight reports.

Conservative Group Urges Against Maine Medicaid Expansion
01/28/2014 04:40 PM ET

At an Augusta press conference this morning, Americans for Prosperity Maine Director Carol Weston, a former Republican state senator from Montville, said expanding Medicaid would force the state to cut elsewhere.

Maine Women's Coalition Sets Legislative Agenda
01/22/2014 10:28 AM ET

The coalition, made up of groups including the ACLU of Maine and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, laid out its legislative priorities on Tuesday at the State House.

Maine Medicaid Expansion Hearing Draws Passionate Testimony
01/15/2014 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Passionate pleas were made today at the State House on both sides of the debate over wehther Maine should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a similar proposal last year, but there are some new elements added to this year's bill. Patty Wight reports.

Maine Small Business Owners Check out ACA Options
12/10/2013 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

Small businesses - that is, those with fewer than 50 full-time employees, don't have to provide health insurance to employees under the Affordable Care Act. Some want to, but are finding that new options can be confusing. Patty Wight stopped by a forum this morning put on by the Maine Health Access Foundation to help small businesses forge ahead into this new territory.

Maine ACA Group Stops Short of Recommending Medicaid Expansion
12/09/2013 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

While the federal goverment is continually trying to improve the new health insurance marketplace Web site, a group in Maine is also trying to ensure the marketplace works well. Today the Health Exchange Advisory Committee approved its final recommendations for the state. As Patty Wight reports, the consensus is to ensure that as many Mainers as possible have health insurance, but not necessarily through an expansion of Medicaid.

Maine Insurance Regulators Talk Health Overhaul
12/09/2013 10:01 AM ET

The Maine Bureau of Insurance will hold a public informational session on the Affordable Care Act in the Lecture Hall at the Bangor Public Library on Tuesday.

Maine to Allow Health Plans to be Extended 1 Year
11/26/2013 04:07 PM ET

Maine's Bureau of Insurance said today that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will be allowed to renew such health plans for another year.

Mainers Find Good Deals in ACA Marketplace - When Web site Works
11/20/2013 Reported By:Patty B. Wight  

The Web site where people can sign up for new insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act has been plagued with glitches since it first opened in October. But the Obama administration says it's getting better. Patty Wight set out to visit an insurance marketplace "navigator" to see if the Web site has, indeed, improved, and what people think of their new insurance options.

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