Karen R Vachon, Republicanhttp://www.vachonformainehouse.comFacebook
Office Sought: Representative - District 29
Occupation: Licensed Health Insurance Agent
BA Business Administration - 1981, New England College, Henniker, NH
Married to Peter Vachon for 28 years. We have three sons: Jay - 24, Sam - 21, Thomas - 15
Why are you running for office? Over the span of twelve years I have been asked to run for the Maine House three times by three totally unrelated people. My faith tells me to trust in the power of three; sometimes people see in you something you may not see yourself. Last year when Medicaid expansion in Maine heated up, I was on the front lines of the Affordable Care Act, enrolling people, as a licensed health insurance agent. I knew firsthand that Maine doesn’t have an access to health care problem. What was being said in the newspaper about 70,000 Mainer’s left without healthcare if the state didn’t expand Medicaid is not true. Medicaid expansion would not only cripple Maine’s already bloated welfare program, it would reduce healthcare access to Mainer’s leaving them completely uncovered out-of-state. This called me to action: for the first time, I wrote my State Representatives. They responded and asked for more information. I realized that I did have a voice in Augusta; and what I said mattered. As a self-employed, busy, health insurance agent, it dawned on me that the voice of the self employed small business owner wasn’t well represented in the legislature. I would like to be the voice of my constituents and believe it is time to tap into and get to know the knowledge and resources of the people in my district; open the dialog, and have their voices heard in Augusta.
The federal health care law has offered to pay states to expand their Medicaid programs to provide health coverage to low income Mainers. Do you support Medicaid (or MaineCare) expansion?No
I am a trained and certified insurance agent in the Affordable Care Act. There is no such thing as free money. Medicare has been robbed by $716 Billion to fund the ACA. Here’s the truth about Medicaid expansion. MaineCare is not insurance. Private health insurance offers the best access to quality healthcare – including coverage out of state, and emergency coverage out of county. States, such as Maine, who didn’t expand Medicaid, give consumers access to federally funded and subsidized health insurance at 100% of federal poverty level ( individual household income $11,500/year). If Maine expanded Medicaid, entry into the federal exchange would be at 138% federal poverty level (roughly $16,000/year). Since Maine didn’t expand Medicaid, consumers at the 100% federal poverty level, today in Maine, pay between $1.57 - $10.00/month premium for private health insurance, with a $500 maximum out-of-pocket. Also worth noting: Mainer’s whose income is below 175% of federal poverty level also qualify for either free or discounted charity care through Maine’s 38 non-profit hospitals. This charity care can be paired with private health insurance. In short, this means that at 100% of federal poverty level, the $500 maximum out-of-pocket can be picked up by Maine’s hospitals as a second payer. If Mainer’s truly want quality of care, and is concerned for Maine’s financial health, Maine should not expand Medicaid. If you’re still doubtful, give me a call, I will show
Reform of the state’s public assistance programs has been the focus of debates in the State House and on the campaign trail. Do you believe that the state’s welfare programs are too generous?Yes
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?I’m a firm believer that the best personal growth comes from suffering – we cannot know the good times if we haven’t suffered through the bad. We’re familiar with the phrase: Too much of a good thing. That’s where I stand on Welfare programs. I believe they have lost their way: Too generous to the able-bodied, where excess benefits are doing more harm than good. Welfare should be a safety net that cares for those who truly cannot care for themselves, completely and compassionately. For the able-bodied who have fallen on hard times it should provide short-term compassionate relief by way of Welfare to work programs aimed to train, educate, advocate. Welfare assistance for the able-bodied should provide for bare-bone needs only. EBT cards should function like HSA (Health Savings Account) cards. They should have a chip that confines purchases to in-state only; no alcohol, cigarettes, junk food purchases, entertainment, or recreation. I support photo id’s and expiration dates. The Welfare to work programs put in place are good. We need to get the able-bodied back to work and put a halt to the welfare as a way of life mentality. The old adage: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he’ll fish for a lifetime sums it up for me.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?No
Please explain your position on the minimum wage.Very few workers actually earn just minimum wage. Typical minimum wage earners are high school kids working their first job at McDonalds. Entry level positions are very important to introducing first-time wage earners to the working world. A push to raise minimum wage accomplishes little, as it is an economy of scale that goes like this: Demand for higher pay, means businesses lay off workers, and raise prices. It stifles small business, setting our economy back, rather than ahead. Currently, southern Maine's unemployment rate is 4%. As the % of unemployed goes down, demand for workers goes up. When businesses need to compete for workers, wages organically, and sustainably increase naturally.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?No
Please explain your position on legalization?Maine already has a serious drug problem. I’m opposed to the legalization of marijuana because it alters the mind, destroys motivation, blurs rational thinking, and leads to other addictions. Maine has enough challenges with drug addiction. It doesn’t need more.