May 23, 2018
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Mainers lend hand to push health care bill over top

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A group of volunteers spent part of their Saturday making a final pitch to Congressman Michael Michaud, D-Maine, to support a landmark health care bill that is scheduled for a vote in the House on Sunday.

Dianne Kopec of Hudson and others representing Organizing for America worked the phones at an office building in downtown Bangor to convince Maine’s 2nd District representative to get off the fence.

“He voted for health care the first time around, but we want to make sure he understands how much support for reform there is here in Maine,” Kopec said.

Michaud and 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree will be among 435 legislators to cast a vote Sunday on legislation that would overhaul the nation’s health care system. Pingree indicated Friday that she would support the U.S. Senate’s version of the $940 billion health care bill.

“This reform will improve health care for seniors, strengthen Medicare, crack down on the insurance companies and make coverage more affordable,” Pingree said in a statement. “It doesn’t do everything I would like, but it makes many of the reforms Maine people have been asking for years.”

Michaud also is likely to support the bill, but a spokesman said Friday that he would continue to review some of the new changes up until Sunday’s vote.

“At this point, we simply don’t have a complete legislative picture,” said Ed Gilman, the congressman’s communications director. “He wants to review all the legislative language and examine all the issues connected to it before he casts or announces his vote.”

As with other votes on this issue, Sunday’s showdown in the House is likely to fall sharply along party lines, although some moderate Democrats may end up rejecting the bill for various reasons.

Kopec said, in her opinion, the insurance industry has been paying for advertisements that spread misleading information in an effort to derail the bill.

“We don’t have money for ads, but this is our opportunity to make a difference,” she said of Organizing for America, a grass-roots support coalition backed by the Democratic National Committee.

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