Gov. Paul LaPage signed legislation June 1 affirming that Direct Primary Care agreements do not require oversight and regulation by the Maine State Bureau of Insurance, declaring they are not insurance products, but a form of personal service contracts between doctors and patients. Maine is the first state in New England and the 23rd in the nation to enact such a law.

Direct Primary Care is a new model of practicing primary care in which patients enter into a service agreement with the physician. According to the New England Direct Primary Care Alliance, patients often find paying into the monthly, quarterly or annual agreement, in exchange for direct, round-the-clock access to their physician, most laboratory, procedural and consultative services and clinic visits, an affordable and more personalized option. This model also allows physicians greater control over their practice, the industry group says.

New England Direct Primary Care Alliance founding members from Maine Drs. Michael Ciampi of South Portland, Peter Sacchetti of York, and Brian Pierce of Rockland were integral in drafting the Act Governing Direct Primary Care Service Agreements, which stipulates that DPC service agreements are not insurance and therefore not subject to regulation by the Maine State Bureau of Insurance. The delineation also ensures that patients are free to seek care outside of an insurance plan and pay for such care, according to the group.

Currently, there are eight physicians practicing in various locations around central and southern Maine, with more practices adopting this new model of health care delivery. The bill was introduced by Maine Sen. Rod Whittemore, R-Skowhegan.

Maine is the first state in New England to have legislation governing Direct Primary Care.