The Maine Senate gave its final approval May 16 to a revamping of state health insurance regulations, a move supporters said would lower costs but opponents said would increase expenses for the elderly, the sick, and people who live in rural areas.

The Senate gave its final backing to enactment of LD 1333 on May 16 on a 24-10 tally. The House gave its final approval 78-68 on May 12.

All three local Republican state senators — Sens. Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport — supported final passage of the bill.

A news release from state Senate Democrats said the bill leaves room for insurance carriers to determine policy coverage and health care costs based on age, geography and occupation. “People over the age of 48 living in rural areas of the state will face higher health care costs and be mandated to travel to urban centers for health care,” the news release stated.

On the final House 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.

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.