NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 31, 2008

Maine has recently joined the growing list of failed state health care reforms.  The Dirigo Care program was shoved down the throats of a bewildered legislature by an egotistical governor who promised Nirvana.  A recent report sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Academy Health and conducted by the Mathematica research company shows what a dismal failure it has been, says Greg Scandlen, founder of Consumers for Health Care Choices.

The report is a devastating examination of a program that was poorly conceived and doomed to fail from the beginning  -- as many had predicted, says Scandlen.  According to the authors:

  • After 20 months of operation only 11,000 were enrolled in DirigoChoice (out of a total uninsured population of 136,000), and over two-thirds of these were already covered.
  • Of the small companies eligible to participate, only 2.5 percent actually did.
  • The financing scheme (a "savings offset payment") is impossible to measure or implement.
  • Almost as many people (3,600) had disenrolled from the program as were newly insured by it.

Although the report is fairly comprehensive at 26 pages, nowhere does it mention the cost of the program to Maine's taxpayers or the cost per newly-enrolled person, says Scandlen.

According to Tarren Bragdon, writing for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, among Maine's uninsured population:

  • Almost two in every three uninsured Maine adults are single, without dependent children and/or in excellent or very good health.
  • Almost four in every 10 uninsured have family incomes over $35,000 and/or are young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years.
  • One in three uninsured adults are already eligible for retroactive Medicaid coverage.

Source: Greg Scandlen, "Maine's Failed Health Reforms; Dirigo Care Tanks," State Policy Network, January 2, 2008.

For text: 

For Mathematica report:  


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