LD 1498, Bipartisan Medicaid Ombudsman Bill passes into law
AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Legislature overrode Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1498, a bill that requires the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to contract with a Maine nonprofit to provide ombudsman services to people who have MaineCare.
The bill, LD 1498, was supported by a bipartisan group of legislators in both the House of Representatives, where it passed with a vote of 118 to 28, and in the Maine Senate, where the bill passed with a vote of 29 to 5.
“This is a victory for the people of Maine,” said Rep. Karen Vachon, R-Scarborough, sponsor of LD 1498. “We brought this bill forward to help our most vulnerable constituents who struggle with navigating MaineCare. This service is badly needed, and, when done right, will help DHHS assure confidence and security among a population who, more than anyone else, needs an assurance of trust that their needs are being met.”
LD 1498 clarifies an existing Maine law that requires an ombudsman program for the Medicaid population by defining the role and activities the ombudsman must provide. This legislation requires that DHHS contract with a Maine nonprofit to provide these advocacy services as long as nonstate funding is available. DHHS previously contracted with Consumers for Affordable Health Care to provide these services using federal funding combined with funds privately raised by CAHC, but DHHS eliminated the contract in June 2015.
“With this veto override, the Maine legislature has sent a clear message: people who need help navigating MaineCare should get it,” said Emily Brostek, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care. “Navigating DHHS can be overwhelming, especially for people who are sick. People need someone who is on their side, and we applaud the Maine Legislature for acting to ensure Maine people get this help.”
“Now, it’s up to DHHS to take the next step, and begin the process of contracting with a Maine nonprofit to provide these advocacy services,” continued Brostek. We urge them to act quickly so that Maine people don’t miss out on these vital services.”
Consumers for Affordable Health Care is a nonprofit advocacy organization committed to helping all Maine people obtain quality, affordable, health care. For more information, visit: http://www.mainecahc.org/about-us/