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Lawmakers get health reform list

Posted Feb. 24, 2010, at 8:38 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited since its print publication to clarify that the MHPC does not support requiring all residents to carry health insurance.

BANGOR, Maine — On the eve of a pivotal health care reform summit in Washington, the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center teamed Wednesday with the Maine Association of Health Underwriters and Bar Harbor BioTechnology Inc. to present Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe with a list of “patient-centered” reform measures.

The group released its recommendations at a news conference at Husson University.

Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the policy center, praised Snowe and Collins for their leadership during the debate in Congress.

“Their commitment to a real bipartisan solution to reduce costs and improve quality without increasing the burden on Maine taxpayers and businesses is unquestionable,” he said. “Allowing a government takeover and having bureaucrats and politicians playing doctor is not an option.”

Among the reform measures promoted by the group were a number of free-market solutions that would lighten the regulatory burden on the health insurance industry, a move intended to promote competition and hold down the cost of insurance. The group also endorsed proposals allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines and promoting the use of electronic medical records.

Both Snowe and Collins have acknowledged a pressing need to enact national health reforms but have declined to sign on to the strictly partisan Senate bill. Representatives from their local offices attended the media event and said they would forward the recommendations to the two Republican senators.

Greg Howard of Maine Change that Works, a liberal health reform advocacy organization, said the recommendations indicate positive movement from the political right.

Conservative groups, including the policy center, have been “proponents of the status quo throughout the entire debate until today,” Howard said.

Howard noted that a number of GOP amendments are included in the proposed legislation endorsed by the Obama administration and up for debate today at the Blair House conference. Snowe and Collins, he said, “have talked the talk [about health care reform] for quite some time; now it’s time for them to walk the walk.”

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