Senator Collins Participates in Panel Discussion on the Future of Health Care

The panel included representatives from AARP Maine, Central Maine Healthcare, ACS CAN, and other stakeholders

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins participated in a health care panel hosted by Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and organized by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). The discussion was part of a series of panels ACS CAN is organizing in Maine and other states to promote meaningful dialogue about health reform.

“When I think of health care, I always think of three issues: The first is affordability, the second is access, and the third is quality,” said Senator Collins during the discussion. “The fact that I am talking to such a diverse group is reassuring because that is what we need to do in Washington. We have to stop talking past one another and making things so divisive and partisan. When it comes to health care, we should leave that approach behind and work together.”

“ACS CAN was excited to bring Senator Collins and local health care providers, patients and other stakeholders together to engage in a dialogue about the future of health care here in Maine,” said Hilary Schneider, director of government relations for ACS CAN in Maine. “Having adequate and affordable health insurance coverage is a key determinant in surviving cancer and other serious diseases – which is why ACS CAN and other patient groups have dedicated such energy to working with Senator Collins and her colleagues in Congress to ensure patients with serious illness have access to comprehensive and affordable insurance coverage. We are grateful to Senator Collins for her leadership on this and other health issues.”

Although the Affordable Care Act is providing valuable assistance for some, the ACA individual markets are in danger of collapsing in many states unless significant changes are made. In addition, even with the ACA in full effect, nearly 30 million Americans remain without coverage. Those who do have coverage are experiencing huge spikes in premium costs, deductibles, and co-pays.

During the panel discussion, Senator Collins noted that she has sought to address these important problems facing the ACA through the Patient Freedom Act, a comprehensive replacement plan that she introduced with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) earlier this year.

“As the Christian Science Monitor put it last week, a possible solution may already be staring Congress in the face. That is the legislation I introduced in January with Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a physician who has practiced in public hospitals virtually his entire career,” Senator Collins said. “Our compromise attempts to give more power back to the states and bridge the partisan divide, but it requires states to keep the consumer protections of the ACA. It also requires coverage for substance abuse and mental health disorders, and given our opioid crisis, that was a provision I made sure was in that bill.”

Today’s panelists included:

  • U.S. Senator Susan Collins
  • Lori Parham, State Director, AARP Maine
  • David Thompson, Chief Financial Officer, Central Maine Healthcare
  • Gordon Smith, Esq., Executive Vice President, Maine Medical Association
  • Dervilla McCann, MD, FACC, Central Maine Healthcare & American Heart Association
  • Stretch Tuemmler, ACS CAN volunteer and cancer survivor

Click HERE to read more about Senators Cassidy and Collins’ Patient Freedom Act