Jared Golden would punish Mainers for not buying health insurance with tax or fine

Jared Golden speaking at an event. Photo from Jared Golden official Facebook page.

AUGUSTA – It’s an attack line Jared Golden is fond of – claiming Bruce Poliquin “cut Mainers off” health insurance. But it isn’t actually true, and it exposes Golden’s contrasting position on health insurance, Golden would have supported Obamacare’s method of mandating every American have health insurance or pay a penalty.

The basis for the attack on Congressman Poliquin is that by voting to repeal the individual mandate under Obamacare that punished people with a penalty (tax or fine) exceeding $2,000 for a family of four, Poliquin somehow “cut them off” from healthcare.

It’s an attack line that Golden’s out-of-state allies have already used in television ads attacking Poliquin across Maine.

The talking point is derived from a report from the Congressional Budget Office that says many Americans would simply choose not to purchase health insurance if they were not facing the penalty.

To quote the CBO report referring to the estimated increase in uninsured Americans, Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate.”

Tens of thousands of low- and middle-income Mainers have already paid penalties in previous years because they could not afford health insurance. In 2015, nearly 35,000 Maine families chose to face the penalty instead of purchasing insurance. Data shows that more than 92% of those Maine families hit with the Obamacare penalty are low- to middle-income families earning less than $75,000 per year.

Many have pointed out that the CBO is notoriously unreliable on this issue, having predicted that Obamacare would provide far greater benefits at significantly lower cost than was ever realized, but the more salient point here is the contrasting approaches of Golden and Poliquin.

The rubber hits the road, though, with the fact that Jared Golden wants to punish any Maine family that can’t afford insurance with massive penalties which can exceed $2,000 for a Maine family of four.

Bruce Poliquin voted to eliminate that mandate and the penalty – and he risked political attacks and mud-slinging to do it.

No matter how you look at it, eliminating a mandate that punished people for not purchasing health insurance is not the same thing as “cutting them off” from health care.

Advertising such a claim as Golden and his allies are doing requires so much twisting of the facts that it’s hard to see how an honest person could say it with a straight face.

Jason Savage is the executive director of the Maine GOP. Before serving in his current position, Jason served as executive director of Maine People Before Politics, where he worked to support policies that improved the lives of Maine people, including health insurance reform.

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