Dirigo – More Costly and Less Effective than Ever

Read the full report | In the late evening on April 15th – Tax Day – a slim majority of the Maine Legislature passed a $57 to $72 million tax increase to fund the ballooning costs of the Dirigo Health program. While a great deal of attention has been focused on the tax increase and its impact on Maine’s brutally high tax burden, the real story is, by the Dirigo Health Agency’s own admission, that the five-year-old Dirigo experiment is a costly failure.

Passed in June 2003, the Dirigo Health program was meant to be self-sustaining, was to have covered all 128,000 uninsured people in Maine by 2009. Voters were assured Dirigo would never require an increase in taxes. Those were the promises when Governor Baldacci signed the bill into law. The new government insurance program called DirigoChoice was enacted, and a myriad of expensive regulations were imposed on private health care insurers, hospitals, doctors, and other providers. In theory, the program was to have created “savings” for health care providers and insurance companies, savings which were then to be extracted from consumers and private health insurers to be used to subsidize DirigoChoice and the Dirigo Health Agency.

The savings never materialized.

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