Republican legislators in Maine have proposed a new bill that would levy a $4 monthly health insurance tax throughout the state. The bill notably exempts federal and state employees from the tax, drawing harsh criticism from both Democrats and citizens.
Democrats had submitted amendments to the bill late last week that would remove the exemption for lawmakers, but the notion was dismissed by Republicans. However, Senator Richard Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, issued an emergency legislation that would require state legislators to be included in the tax.
The reasoning behind the proposed tax is to subsidize insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. This will help insurers provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions without having to tip-toe around federal mandates.
Whittemore claims that Republicans were well aware that the exemption was unfair last month during debates, but opted to make changes to the bill later rather than put off voting. The new legislation proposed by Whittemoore would have insurers send bills for the tax to legislators directly.
Despite the amendment, Democrats may pursue a people’s veto in an effort to repeal the law if it passes the Senate. They claim the bill will raise insurance prices for the elderly and may cause people to purchase out-of-state policies.
In an effort to gain insight on public opinion, the Legislature will be holding public hearings regarding the bill, hosted by the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Despite the opposition, Whittemore believes that the legislation will pass with support from both parties.