Maine 2023 Legislative Session Summary
Victory in the fight against cancer requires bold new public policies that promote cancer prevention, early detection of cancer, and expand access to quality, affordable health care. Lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of Mainers impacted by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. The 2023 Maine Legislature saw a return to in-person proceedings with new hybrid public hearings. In addition, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the Maine Legislature in support of the following fact-based policy priorities:
Ensuring Access to Quality Care
- Access to Biomarker Testing: ACS CAN led a large diverse coalition that advocated in support of improved coverage of comprehensive biomarker testing. A bill with strong bipartisan support was introduced and a successful hearing was held with a large turnout of individuals testifying in support, including those representing patient and provider organizations, as well as patients who shared their personal stories about the importance of access to biomarker testing. The Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee voted in support of asking the Bureau of Insurance to conduct a “mandated benefit study” on the bill with a report back to the committee in January of 2024. ACS CAN will continue to work with partners to advocate for passage of this important bill in 2024.
- Access to Health Coverage through Medicaid: ACS CAN worked with partners to successfully defeat proposals that would have repealed or limited Medicaid coverage. These policy proposals could harm people with cancer and cancer survivors by reducing access to affordable, quality health coverage. ACS CAN also testified in support of a policy proposal to expand access to Medicaid coverage to individuals who currently do not have access to such coverage due to immigration status. While this proposal passed in the Maine House of Representatives, it did not garner enough support to pass in the Maine Senate. ACS CAN will continue to work with partners to advocate for access to affordable, comprehensive coverage to better prevent, treat and survive cancer regardless of citizenship status, thereby ending cancer as we know it for everyone.
- Access to Health Coverage for Breast Cancer Screening: ACS CAN worked with partners to successfully advocate in support of a bill that requires private health insurance coverage of follow-up breast cancer screenings at no cost when the result of the original screening test is inconclusive. The bill passed the Maine Legislature and went into law without the Governor’s signature. The provisions go into effect for all private insurance policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2024.
- Protections Against Inadequate Coverage: ACS CAN worked with partners to successfully defeat legislative proposals which would have allowed for the sale of health insurance plans that do not include comprehensive benefits coverage and are not subject to important patient protections required under the Affordable Care Act. Evidence shows that patients may be attracted to such coverage because of lower premiums but find themselves without coverage for needed services after a cancer diagnosis and footing the bill for costly services.
- Reducing the Toll of Tobacco
- Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding: ACS CAN successfully advocated to protect funding for fact-based, statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs at $15.9 million annually, which is equivalent to the amount recommended for the state by the US CDC. The funding for this program comes largely from revenues from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments, which go into the Fund for a Healthy Maine. The other source of state funding for this program is a portion of the revenue the state collects from excise taxes on non-cigarette tobacco products.
- Reducing Access to Tobacco Products: ACS CAN worked with partners to advocate in support of a bill that would prohibit pharmacies from selling tobacco products. Selling tobacco in pharmacies sends a mixed message to consumers about the dangers of tobacco products and easy access to products encourage their use. While the bill passed the Maine House and Senate, the fiscal note on the bill due to projected loss of tobacco tax revenue from reduced tobacco product sales was not funded. As such, the bill was carried over to the next legislative session. ACS CAN will continue to work with partners and lawmakers to pass this policy proposal into law.
- Preventing and Reducing Youth Tobacco Use: ACS CAN joined partners in advocating in support of proposals to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products. While the bill passed the Maine Senate, it did not get a vote in the House. The proposal has been carried over until the next legislative session. ACS CAN is committed to continuing to work with lawmakers to advance evidence-based policies aimed at reducing tobacco use in Maine.
Quality of Life
- Paid Family Medical Leave: ACS CAN testified in support of a bill that became law as part of a budget bill, which will create a paid family and medical leave program. Beginning in 2026, eligible public and private sector workers will have 12 weeks of paid time off available to them for family or medical reasons including illness, to care for a relative, or for the birth of a child.
- Palliative Care Advisory Council: ACS CAN worked with partners to successfully advocate in support of a bill that will add a consumer representative to the state palliative care advisory council. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor.
- LGBTQ Data Collection: ACS CAN testified in support of a bill that became law, which that requires health care facilities to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data as part of the patient intake process. The requirement goes into effect on October 1, 2026.
- Preserving Local Control: ACS CAN worked with partners to successfully defeat two legislative proposals that would have restricted the right of local governments to pass public health policies stronger than state laws. Local governments are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people in their communities. ACS CAN supports their ability to pass laws that are proven to promote good health, well-being, and equality. Preserving local control is needed to pass innovative and proactive public health policies.
For more information, contact Hilary Schneider, ACS CAN Maine Government Relations Director [email protected] | 207.522.1332