A divisive bill to overhaul Maine’s health insurance regulations is moving closer to final passage despite continued criticism that it would harm older people and rural residents.

And there is a disagreement between the Republican-dominated House and Senate on the measure.

The Senate voted 21-13 on May 11 to adopt LD 1333 but not before making some changes sought by Democrats.

The Maine House voted a third time May 12 to give its final approval to the bill 78-68. On May 10, the vote was 79-68. On May 5 in the initial House vote, the tally was 76-72.

On the final votes May 12, Republicans rejected a series of amendments proposed by Democrats that would have prohibited insurance companies from charging more based on the geographic location of the insured. Rural legislators have voiced concern that would increase rates for people in their areas.

Local legislators were sharply divided along party lines with Republicans backing the changes and Democrats opposed.

Voting for LD 1333 on May 12 were Republican Reps. Wes Richardson of Warren, Dana Dow of Waldoboro, Deborah Sanderson of Chelsea, and Jonathan McKane of Newcastle.

Voting against the bill were Democratic Reps. Edward Mazurek of Rockland, Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Joan Welsh of Rockport, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, and Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle.

On May 11, all three Midcoast Republican state senators — Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport — voted for the revised bill.

Rector said he supports changes to the current laws.

“The current system is not working,” Rector said.

He said health insurance rates in Maine are so expensive that young people do not buy insurance. By lowering costs, more young people will buy insurance and the goal is that this would increase the pool and lower costs for everyone, Rector said.

Democrats have criticized the way the bill has been handled, saying it has been pushed through so quickly that legislators and the public did not have time to study the proposals.

Among the concerns voiced by Democrats is that it would allow insurance companies to charge more for people based on their age and their geographic location. The bill also removes requirements that insurers have physicians and hospitals who are part of their plan within a certain limit of the customer.

The bill also allows people to purchase insurance from companies outside Maine. Supporters say the increased competition will lower rates but opponents have argued that this will bypass Maine’s law that mandates insurers cover certain care such as pregnancy, mammograms and other preventative care.

The Senate version, however, inserted a change to prevent insurers from charging more for geographic location and to keep in requirements that patients need not travel long distances for covered care.

The Senate has yet to take its final vote.