Tea Party sympathy

Governor LePage of Maine is a Tea Party politician. This is what the Tea Party wants to happen with Obamacare

Shields is one of a handful of counselors in rural Washington County charged with finding people who will benefit from the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act and helping them sign up. There are many. Eighteen percent of people here, more than in any other county in New England, lacked health insurance in 2011, according to the most recent census analysis. Yet, the rollout of the federal program here has been slow.

Outreach workers have a lot of ground to cover in a county of about 32,500 people that is more than two times the size of Rhode Island and where some families have limited Internet access. For weeks, they have been holding community meetings in libraries and at health centers, sometimes drawing just one or two people.

Even among the few who have come to her Eastport Health Center office for one-on-one help, Shields has not signed up a single person. She has been thwarted by the near-failure of the federal insurance website. On Tuesday morning, she and a client tried five times to log in to the site before giving up.

Maine was one of 34 states that chose not to create a state-run insurance program under the law. (Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, also vetoed a bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program with federal funding.) Residents who qualify for the new subsidized plans must purchase them through the federal program.

Without state coordination, a network of social service agencies, health centers, and statewide nonprofits are using federal grants to lead the outreach campaign. Enroll207.com, created by Maine Health Access Foundation, serves as a clearinghouse for information on how to get help.

Denbow said later that she passed information to her daughter, who is uninsured. Before she spoke with Shields, Denbow said, she knew that the law required people to buy health insurance but she didn’t know it offered subsidies for those who couldn’t afford it.

“I don’t think there was enough education onto it,” she said.

LePage doesn’t like Obamacare and so does everything he can to block it: Maine didn’t create its own insurance program; it didn’t expand Medicaid; it doesn’t work to get information out to the people of Maine. That’s why you get people in Maine who don’t even know that Obamacare has subsidies for the poor. I would think that a governor of a state would want to help his citizens, but I guess that’s not true for LePage.

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