Maine Providers Standing up for Healthcare has been very active since its inception in early 2017, in hopes of moving Maine towards improved and more accessible healthcare. We are a coordinated group of volunteers motivated largely by our connection to the lives, fears, struggles, and triumphs of our patients and communities with the goal of improving outcomes in a just healthcare system. Here's the story of how we got started.
Barbara and Peter Shaw and Connie Adler ignited Maine Providers Standing Up for Healthcare (MPSUH, aka Stand Up Maine) in January 2017. Outraged about the new Trump-Ryan-McConnell threat to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) expansion of health coverage, they rallied hundreds of frontline healthcare providers. This group penned an open letter to Maine's senior U.S. Senator Susan Collins and funded a full-page publication in the state’s largest newspapers on February 3, 2017. It began, “We urge you to vote against repeal and work with your colleagues to improve the ACA…”
We saw a special opportunity as frontline healthcare providers in Maine: Senator Collins would be crucial to any ACA repeal bill. Furthermore, she had earned a reputation for open-mindedness and bipartisan collaboration as well as devotion to all Mainers.
In the spring and summer of 2017, we urged Senator Collins to oppose any bill that would reduce the number of Mainers covered by health insurance. Along with the work of multiple other groups, our efforts paid off. Over the course of three separate ACA repeal bills during the summer of 2017, Senator Collins was a crucial vote in preventing ACA repeal. She cited input from healthcare providers as a key factor in deciding how to cast her votes.
Since advocating for ACA defense and improvement, MPSUH has remained active at the state and federal levels.
In mid-2017, we mobilized our network to quickly raise the required monies to fully fund an unfunded 2017 Maine law authorizing the creation of a bipartisan healthcare task force to explore public, private, and blended systems with which Maine could achieve universal health coverage. The task force is currently at work.
In late 2017, MPSUH enthusiastically joined the “Question 2” effort led by Mainers for Healthcare to expand Medicaid/Mainecare to over 70,000 uninsured Mainers, a bill co-sponsored by the Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine People's Alliance, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. By a sizable 59 to 41% majority, Maine became the first state in America to expand Medicaid by a citizens’ referendum. While former Governor LePage refused to comply with this new law, MPSUH continued to advocate knowing that health insurance saves lives. Thankfully, Governor Mills signed Medicaid expansion into law immediately upon taking office in 2019.
In June 2018, we were honored with a Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare 30th Anniversary 'Health Care Hero Award' for our "tireless work to improve access to health care for all Mainers," among a group of other recipients who have been working far longer than we have to improve healthcare access in Maine.
In the summer of 2018, we felt compelled to stand up against proposed rule changes to Title X family planning funding. Since 1970, Title X helps ensure low-income individuals have access to voluntary evidence-based family planning methods and services. (Note: Title X does not pay for abortions; current law and regulations already require that no federal funds go toward abortions.) The proposed changes would damage healthcare access and quality to 22,000 Maine women, many of whom live in a rural location and 80% of whom are in the vulnerable low-income population.
In early 2019, MPSUH joined the Maine Immunization Coalition and many other groups to strongly testify in favor of LD 798, a bill that would end non-medical vaccine opt-outs. As frontline healthcare providers, we have seen unnecessary illness and death from vaccine-preventable illnesses. Since the evidence is overwhelming that vaccines are among the safest and most-effective public health interventions ever developed in preventing disease, we are continuing to stand up for safer communities in advocating for vaccines as a requirement to attend public schools or work in healthcare facilities.