By now you’ve probably heard in some form that the Legislature is crippled with partisan gridlock and currently in recess until we head back in to deal with the governor’s long list of vetoes.
I’d like to provide some perspective on this situation.
Last week, a small group of House Republicans voted to block an extension of the legislative session, blocking our ability to continue working. They essentially shut down the Legislature from finishing the work we had left. Bills like transportation bonds for roads and bridges, Medicaid expansion, funding for our schools, banning conversion therapy, implementing marijuana business licenses, expanding student loan assistance, and how to deal with state level changes from the Trump tax plan. Important pieces of legislation destined to just die without debate, without a vote.
This childish display of strategic antics is unacceptable. We were elected to do a job and it’s time to do it. We can’t just negate our duties because you want to go home. I’m here, ready to work until the job is done whether it’s today, tomorrow or two months from now.
I often talk about the influence of lobbyists at the statehouse in Augusta. For the most part my advocacy on this topic centers around reducing the role money plays with lobbyist influence, but we can’t ignore the culture that we’ve allowed to be created in the hallowed halls.
Pay-for-play is common practice and at this point is pretty common knowledge. The special interest group and corporate lobbyist with the largest checkbook has the most direct influence over public policy decision making. What isn’t as known, is how lobbyists are treated versus legislators.
It’s not often we can say both sides came together for the greater good, but that is exactly what has happened.
Democrats and Republicans overwhelming rejected the governor’s veto on my bill, LD 1030 An Act to Require Non Discrimination Policies in Providing Health Care Services.
The Maine Senate voted 32-2 to override the veto and the Maine House followed suit 135-11. This was after a unanimous report from the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. This means my bill now becomes law and will begin impacting policies in January 2019.
The new law will prevent insurance companies from excluding payment for care received from a naturopathic doctor practicing within the scope of their license. This means insurers will have to pay for health care provided by licensed naturopaths, as they would for care given by other licensed providers, such as medical doctors, osteopathic physicians and nurse practitioners.
The law also prohibits insurance companies from charging higher co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for naturopathic care. In addition, insurance companies may not exclude naturopathic physicians from their network on the basis of their training and licensure.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco