Maine legislators approved a bill to provide statewide universal health insurance partly funded by a 4.1% annual fee on all private health insurance premiums. In its original form, the bill also would have regulated hospital rates, revenue and expenses. In order to get the rate-setting provisions removed, the Maine Hospital Association agreed to provisions asking hospitals to voluntarily hold their consolidated operating margins to 3.5% for one year and abide by a yet-to-be-determined cap on new construction projects. The bill passed the state House 105-38 and the Senate 25-8. It is expected to be signed this week by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, its lead architect. The insurance plan, known as Dirigo Health, would eventually cover some 180,000 currently uninsured residents. An advisory council -- including five provider representatives -- would monitor healthcare trends, provider performance and other industry issues. -- by Jeff Tieman
Maine approves statewide insurance plan
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