Little Advertising in Maine for Health Care Law

Some states are gearing up to help get the word out about the new federal health care law, but Maine officials are taking a more hands-off approach.

Maine’s community groups and health centers are getting about $2 million to promote the new health insurance marketplace, or about $1.50 per state resident.

But, unlike in many states, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services says there are no plans to market or advertise President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Maine hasn’t received funding for that purpose, the department said.

States that have been more hostile to the law will receive proportionally less money for advertising and outreach than states that have partnered with the federal government, according to data compiled by The Associated Press from federal and state sources.

Gov. Paul LePage decided to let the federal government set up the health insurance exchange, rather than have the state design the program. In his letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Republican governor wrote that the health care overhaul law “has severe legal problems, is bad policy, and overreaches into the lives and pocketbooks of fellow Americans.”

The new marketplace, known as exchange, will allow consumers to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance. Open enrollment starts Oct. 1, and coverage takes effect in January.

By comparison, Vermont, which is running a state-based exchange, is spending $90,000 on ad buys and $1.8 million on marketing contracts. Overall, Vermont will spend more than $7 per person on marketing and outreach to promote the new health care exchange.