Good morning from Augusta. There are 25 days until the November election.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That is the last one all the old people can remember having heard of,” said Erin Fernald Gray, on her sixth child being the first one born in Islesford, a hamlet on Little Cranberry Island, since 1927. The last known baby was her grandfather’s.
What we are watching today
The Democrat running for U.S. Senate is highlighting health care as the competitive race enters its final weeks. House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, is holding a town hall this morning on the issue in Hermon today and visiting a LifeFlight of Maine facility in Bangor in what her campaign calls the “Health Care is on the Ballot” tour as she makes her final pitch to voters in her race against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican.
Health care has been one of the topline issues in Gideon’s campaign all along, but it has taken up increased resonance due to an impending Supreme Court battle, as the court is set to hear a case that could undo the Affordable Care Act shortly after the election. That court could have a more conservative bent if Senate Republicans are successful in confirming Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a move Collins opposes before the election.
Collins broke with her party to preserve the health care law in 2017 and opposes Trump administration’s suit against the law, but the Democrat has criticized the incumbent Republican over her vote for a 2017 tax bill that eliminated the individual mandate and ultimately became the legal basis for the case. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act could allow insurance companies to charge more to individuals with pre-existing health conditions and reduce coverage for preventative care for Medicare beneficiaries, among other changes.
Republicans have also gone on the offensive against Gideon over health care with recent ads attacking her public option proposal. Gideon, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, supports a plan that would allow people to buy into a Medicare-like program. It could pass if Democrats take control of the Senate and the presidency in 2021. Importantly, Gideon has also backed ending the Senate filibuster, which would allow her Democrats to pass an overhaul with a simple majority if they take over.
Collins has opposed that vociferously while Republicans have argued that such a plan would threaten rural hospitals, but it depends how the program is designed. While low Medicare rates pose financial challenges for some hospitals, including many in Maine, Congress has the power to increase those rates, and Gideon has indicated support for doing so.
Gideon, Collins and independent candidates Max Linn and Lisa Savage, the latter of whom supports a Medicare for All plan to address health care, will meet again for another U.S. Senate debate next week.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine adult-use marijuana stores prepare for opening-day crowds despite low supply,” Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News: “Store owners expect pent-up interest when Maine stores open nearly four years after recreational marijuana legalization was approved by voters. The market may begin slowly amid expectations of product shortages as businesses get licensed and begin ramping up. As the market opens, eight cultivation facilities, four manufacturing businesses and one testing laboratory have been licensed by the state for recreational activities.” Here’s your soundtrack.
As the market opens on Friday, the issue is pitting conservatives against advocates for the industry in Aroostook County. Of the 65 cities and towns in Maine that have opted into allowing recreational marijuana businesses to operate within their boundaries, only two — Presque Isle and Grand Isle — are in The County. While some towns are amenable to the industry and are simply waiting for a business to indicate interest before crafting ordinances, other small towns are staying away while citing concern about crime and drug abuse.
— “Ad Watch: Susan Collins’ tax-cut vote didn’t directly imperil Social Security or Medicaid,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “The tax bill was not directly linked to immediate issues in those programs. While some of Collins’ fellow Republicans have long proposed cuts to both in response to an increased federal deficit and some partisan bills backed by the Maine senator could have wrought cuts if they passed, Collins says she opposes cuts to either program and she recently acted to stop one.”
— “Meet the 8 Bangor residents who want to represent you on the City Council,” Charles Eichacker and Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “The top three vote-getters will each serve three years on the nine-member council, as the city addresses a seemingly growing homeless population and a pandemic that has curtailed operations at the types of businesses that account for a large chunk of municipal revenue, including casinos, retailers, restaurants and concert venues.”
Editor’s note: The Daily Brief will be off Monday for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It will return Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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