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AUGUSTA, ME - State Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess has been appointed to a legislative committee that will help integrate the new federal health care law into the Maine system. She is one of 12 members of the Maine House named by Speaker Hannah Pingree to the new Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Opportunities and Implementation. Five state senators will bring the full complement to 17.

Rep. Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland) serves on the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee, which will be integral to making changes to bring the state into line with the new federal rules. Other members of the new select panel serve on committees dealing with insurance and appropriations.

"The mission is to run a full analysis of the law and figure out the best ways to proceed to help Maine citizens and companies maximize the positive parts of the program, like tax credits for small businesses," said Rep. Strang Burgess. "I had serious reservations about the new federal law, because it does almost nothing to control health care costs. They will continue their rapid rise. But now that it's the law of the land, we should use it to our best advantage."

The committee was established by legislative action, winning final passage in early April. The list of duties includes examining the impact of the new federal statute on existing state law and health care programs, with emphasis on the state's Medicaid program, known as MaineCare, which provides free health care to approximately 290,000 Maine residents.

The panel also will explore opportunities to conduct federally funded pilot projects, including those related to payment reform and use of health care technology. Another duty involves investigating how the federal law affects Maine's ability to adopt a system of universal care through a single-payer plan, using Medicare or MaineCare as a vehicle.

"The major benefits don't start until 2014," said Rep. Strang Burgess. "Id like to see us press on with commonsense ideas of our own, such as letting Mainers buy coverage across state lines. This is something Republicans have advocated for years. We should look for ways to improve what Congress has handed us."


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Rep. Strang Burgess is a second-term legislator representing House District 108, which includes Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth.


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