FILE - ME Janet Mills 1-8-2020

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (second from left), alongside Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Sara Gideon (right), speaks during a news conference Jan. 8, 2020.

(The Center Square) – A state legislative committee has approved a measure to expand health insurance coverage for individuals and small businesses in Maine.

A news release from the office of Gov. Janet Mills said the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services (HCIFS) Committee unanimously endorsed “The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act,” which was sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson.

“The committee’s unanimous endorsement of this bill is a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together,” Mills said. “I am proud of the bipartisan support this bill won and thank Democrats and Republicans for working collaboratively with each other and my Administration to advance it. As a result, we are another step closer to making high-quality health care more affordable and ensuring that our health care system is tailored to meet the needs of Maine people and small businesses.”

Dan Morin, director of communications and government affairs for the Maine Medical Association, told The Center Square that the legislation is designed to give Mainers greater control of their health care.

“The overall goal is getting more people coverage, getting them to see their physicians, and you can’t go wrong with that,” Morin said, adding that the free or less costly preventive care would help those who normally forgo doctor visits, sometimes resulting in a later problem that can be prohibitively expensive to treat.

There are still aspects of the plan that need to be developed, and should the bill pass, federal waivers are still needed to implement it.

“It was unanimously voted out of committee last week, and once it’s reported out to the House and Senate, there will probably be a vote on it in the next couple of weeks, depending on the workload each chamber has,” Morin said, adding, “I’m sure they’ll work quickly.”