Holly Stover is running as a Democrat for Maine House of Representatives District 89. Stover faces Republican incumbent Stephanie Hawke on Nov. 6. Working in the communities with health and wellness, Stover said she believes the three most pressing issues in Maine today are healthcare, education and employment and the economy.
With the 2017 referendum vote which decided an expansion of Medicaid is a necessity, Stover said it is clear to her that as a will of the people, the state has been charged with finding a way to implement it.
“(It) would capture all of the people at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, people who are single, childless adults. There were 70,000 when they were cut off …”
The expansion would essentially provide all Mainers access to healthcare, said Stover, also pointing out that Mainers making less than $12,000 per year do not currently qualify for any state subsidy.
“The two key words here are 'access' and 'affordable’ … For the approximately $100 million of state money that has to go into that, it is matched by $500 million (federal dollars). That's one to five. Let's see, $100 million to $500 million. ”
Stover said that in addition to providing healthcare access to nearly everyone, an expansion would also serve the best interest of the communities, stabilizing the healthcare system statewide. For example, LincolnHealth is the largest employer in Lincoln County, said Stover.
“It really is about the economy and about jobs. Mainecare expansion isn't just about health. Thank goodness it's about health, but it also has ramifications for our community and employment … We all have either someone in our family or someone we know very well who works somewhere in LincolnHealth. That $600 million would be spread across the state.”
Stover said that over the past eight years, hospitals have been payed back a significant debt, but the elimination of single, childless adults from Mainecare has increased the charity care burden by $120 million.
“So, you shut people off from Mainecare, the source that can pay for them, and then just grow a pot of free care that isn't covered? That is not a sustainable healthcare model.”
Without some sort of healthcare expansion Stover said most recovering addicts will not be able to receive treatment and will not have access to beds for detox.
“It also has left communities like ours to develop grassroots solutions. If I have someone come in today who needs a bed, we'll turn over every rock, but as far as treatment beds, the 28-day programs, the three-month programs – it's really hard … Medicaid expansion would provide an avenue to fund and improve access to treatment for opiate use disorders.”
Stover said it bears asking if Maine's fiscal surplus would be a solution for Medicaid expansion. That surplus should definitely be put toward debt, said Stover, but should also be used for ongoing efforts to develop and sustain business, K-12 education, post-secondary education, trade schools and general opportunities for Mainers to thrive.
“If we're using money toward education, we're really taking a step forward for our future … Investing in schools, now, which could include bricks and mortar, energy upgrades, increasing teachers' salaries so we can attract and keep good teachers. We've got to put our money in our future and I would use the surplus to invest in our future.”
Stover said it should be used to create, promote and develop efforts for Maine to grow, to sustain itself, and to make investments that will create a stronger future. This means creating incentives to attract and keep big and small businesses in Maine.
“There needs to be an incentive particularly on taxes for small businesses to be able to make a decent living and not spend so much that it becomes ineffective. If you're paying out more than you're getting, you can't stay in business … There are state and federal programs available to assist small businesses in getting up and going and then on the state level to keep tax incentives at a level that will allow people to sustain those businesses.”
Stover said that also means providing incentives to use Maine’s natural resources like wind, hydro and solar power.
“We should capture these assets and make them affordable … Costs are going down and efficiencies are going up, so I think we need to consider what are the ways we can incentivize people …”
What can be done with renewable energies especially in a place like Maine is a big question which should be answered, Stover said.
“These are natural resources that are in abundance and we don't have to go get them – we have to go get oil, we have to go get coal … Are there implications? Sure, but that's why we carefully do research and we make sure that we mitigate as much as we can any effects of that on the environment and find the incentives to make it viable for the average Mainer.”