Progress Report on Maine's Health Reform Initiative

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<p>In 2003, Maine adopted the Dirigo Health Reform Act, with the goal of making affordable health care coverage available to every Maine resident by 2009, slowing growth in health care costs, and improving the quality of care. Maine was the first state to pass such comprehensive reform. Following its lead, many states have since enacted programs with similar aims.<br><br>In the new report, <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=30837&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecommonwealthfund%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D605785%26%23doc605785">Leading the Way? Maine's Initial Experience in Expanding Coverage Through Dirigo Health Reforms</a>, analysts at Mathematic Policy Research, Inc., examine progress at the initiative's midway point and present valuable lessons for other states seeking to expand insurance coverage while controlling costs.<br><br>The study, which was supported by The Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization Initiative, evaluates two coverage initiatives: Dirigo Choice, a subsidized insurance product, and a Medicaid eligibility expansion for low-income parents of dependent children. These programs have had success in expanding coverage to low- and moderate-income individuals. At the same time, less than 10 percent of previously uninsured Maine residents have gained coverage as of September 2006.<br><br>Among the many program aspects explored by the report are: financing sources, incentives for small firms, employer mandates, plan administration, cost-containment provisions, and benefit design.</p>