PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Most of Maine’s 63,000 residents who get health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace are going to see a benefit from the American Rescue Plan signed into law last week.
The savings on average are expected to be about $50 per month but the benefit could grow depending on income level and plan.
Mainers can sign up for the plans now, and starting on April 1 at Healthcare.gov they can see the impacts of the new subsidies on monthly premiums, the Portland Press Herald reported.
“This is meaningful assistance for so many people,” said Ann Woloson, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care.
The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law is getting attention for its $1,400 stimulus checks but the law marks the first major expansion of the ACA since former President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010. The ACA has survived several repeal attempts and court challenges in the years since then.
In other pandemic-related news:
The number of daily new cases of the virus in Maine has trended upward recently but remains below the post-holiday spike. The average number of daily deaths has decreased.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 167 on Feb. 28 to 181.86 on March 14. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 6.43 on Feb. 28 to 2.71 on March 14.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has reported 47,388 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. The agency has also reported 725 deaths.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the state has logged an uptick in cases of the virus in rural Piscataquis County. He said the cases have been found in residents from age nine to 85. Shah said the rise in cases should be a motivator to continue masking and social distancing as vaccines are rolled out.
Shah said the cases in Piscataquis are among the reasons for the increase in the seven-day rolling average.
“The virus is still not done with us. We still have a ways to go,” Shah said. “We are not out of this yet, at the state as well as the county level.”
One of Maine’s best-known amusement parks is going to reopen after a one-season hiatus because of the pandemic.
Funtown Splashtown USA, in Saco, says new health protocols will be in place to protect guests and workers. Its reopening plan has been submitted to the state for review.
Among the changes, operators will keep some seats on rides and picnic tables empty to allow for physical distancing, and guests will be required to wear masks while visiting the park.
Both the water park and amusement park rides will be open. Last year, the park broke a streak of 60 consecutive years of operation.
The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development has said amusement parks can safely open in the state with protocols such as social distancing, mask wearing and attendance limitations.
Shah said the amusement park can open at 100% capacity in May.
Maine’s largest hospital is relaxing visitor restrictions for patients who don’t have COVID-19.
Maine Medical Center is now allowing one visitor from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for adult patients, including those in critical care. Pediatric patients may be accompanied by two parents or guardians if space permits for social distancing.
“We recognize the incredibly important role that family members and care partners play in providing support and comfort for our patients as well as in helping patients through the transition to home or community care,” said MMC President Jeff Sanders.
Visitors are still barred from areas where patients are being treated for COVID-19, with exceptions for end-of-life situations.