BANGOR — Friday marks Medicare and Medicaid’s 56th anniversary and state lawmakers and residents rallied Thursday to raise awareness, not just of the anniversary but for pending legislation that seeks to expand the program.
More than 345,000 Mainers are covered under Medicare and Medicaid. The number is projected to increase as the population ages.
State Rep. Amy Roeder, D-Bangor, said the program is one people should be proud of but its coverage gaps are problematic. She pointed to pending legislation that would expand the programs to include dental, vision and hearing coverage and give Medicare the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices.
“Because the program is not allowed to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, we all end up paying a fortune for prescriptions,” Roeder said.
“We need to tell our members of congress to stay strong because if they don’t, politicians who want their friends in the pharma industry to keep getting richer while the rest of us suffer will kill these measures and in the process, kill more people,” she said.
Roeder called on Maine’s congressional delegation to support Medicare and Medicaid expansion in the upcoming spending package.