Women's Health Initiative passes House

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Maine House passed a bill Wednesday that would provide reproductive healthcare services for low-income women.

The bill would cover 90 percent of the cost for women who make less than 23 thousand dollars a year. It would cover breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control, but not abortion. The bill passed 92-48, just shy of a veto-proof majority, with no word on whether Governor LePage plans to allow the bill to become law. Supporters say the bill will ultimately save taxpayers money.

"If they don't receive preventative health care then they have to have more expensive procedures and treatments, and those cost money" the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jane Pringle, (D) Windham, said.

Opponents see the bill as another costly expansion to Mainecare.

"Right now, especially at this time, this bill is unneeded," Rep. Deb Sanderson, (R) Chelsea, said. "Because as of the end of this month anybody who is 100 percent of poverty level or over, we are mandated to purchase insurance and all of these insurance plans right now cover the services. So why are we looking to state tax dollars to pay for them?"

The senate is expected to vote on the measure Thursday.


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