The 1115 Medicaid Waiver is Just Another War on the Poor

On Sunday, October 28th, the Southern Maine Workers’ Center held the Rally to Protect and Expand Access to Health Care. The rally connected the dots between the well-known issue of MaineCare expansion, which, while passed by voters has still not been implemented; lesser know attacks on our health care system, including the proposed Section 1115 Waiver which would create, among other things, job requirements for Medicaid; and the growing momentum in a nationwide call  for Medicare for All. We’re sharing some of the powerful speeches from the rally so they continue to inspire the health care is a human right movement in Maine. Now is the time to hold our newly elected officials accountable to enact their promises to improve health care. Please let your representative know that you opposed the proposed changes to MaineCare in the 1115 Waiver.  Please let Governor-elect that in addition to implementing the medicaid expansion, we need  her to rescind the 1115 Waiver!

Mark James, Member of SMWC’s Health Care is a Human Right Committee

Hello, my name is Mark James. I’m a grateful MaineCare recipient. I’m grateful because without it I would be dead. I wasn’t working when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma the first time. I knew if I hadn’t had MaineCare I would probably have died. It all happened so fast. I was living in Aroostook county, in rural northern Maine, where there are not a lot of jobs. The MaineCare 1115 waiver and proposed work requirements do not consider geography, or the fact that many people go without work because there is none to be had. Health care shouldn’t be equated with how many good paying jobs there are in your region of the state.

These waiver requirements are set up to discriminate against the working poor, and find ways to kick people off MaineCare. These punitive work requirements don’t take into account people who work hard taking care of loved ones, which is generally unpaid. I know, because I was a full-time caretaker for both my mother, and my partner of 27 years. When you are caring full time for a loved one, you don’t have time to constantly fill out paperwork.

The paperwork associated with these work requirements is costly bureaucracy, and will lead to many people who should be exempt still losing their coverage because of new barriers they have to overcome. Not to mention, if you miss a premium, fee or co-payment, they could kick you off your MaineCare after just 90 days! So, if you’re working poor and you get sick and can’t pay the premium, you’re screwed either way.

They say this is to incentivize work. I say these requirements are set up to kick working poor people off MaineCare. These policies are setting people up for failure. This does nothing to move us towards our goal of universal health care. It’s another war on the poor to discriminate and humiliate people. That is why I am glad to be part of a movement that sees people’s humanity. We need universal healthcare now, because Health Care is a Human Right!