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Maine Governor’s Veto of Women’s Health Bill Sustained by Legislature

Emily Crockett

Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have expanded Medicaid coverage of family planning services for nearly 14,000 low-income women, and a vote to override the veto failed.

A bill that would have ensured access to preventive health services for nearly 14,000 low-income women in Maine was vetoed by the governor this week. Despite having passed the bill with broad bipartisan support, the state legislature failed to override the governor’s veto during a special session on Thursday.

The session was called so legislators could reconsider at least 48 of Gov. Paul LePage’s vetoes, which Democratic leaders said were being overused as a campaign tool. LePage has vetoed a record-breaking 182 bills since he took office in 2011.

The proposal to expand Medicaid coverage of family planning services, LD 1247, failed to gain the two-thirds of votes in the state house necessary to override the governor’s veto. The vote was 90 in favor of an override and 55 against.

The expansion would have provided coverage of cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual health information for women who make less than $23,000 a year for a household of one. The governor said that women could receive this coverage by signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, while opponents argued that the state would receive $9 from the federal government for every dollar it spent, and that 30 other states have seen a significant reduction in unintended pregnancies after implementing similar plans.

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“Governor Paul LePage put his own personal beliefs over women’s health when he vetoed this important measure,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

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