Maine’s majority Republicans ushered through a sweeping health care overhaul this week, shaking up the insurance market in a move supporters say will lower costs and critics say will burden the elderly with painful premium hikes.

Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill into law Tuesday, calling it a “win-win” for the state which would fuel competition and drive down the cost of premiums for individuals and businesses. The bill would allow residents to shop for individual policies outside of Maine in other New England states, and allow businesses with fewer than 50 workers to band together into pools to extract better rates.

“More choice and competition will drive down the high costs of insurance premiums making coverage more affordable to everyone,” the governor said. “I’m pleased to see Maine moving in the right direction.”

He said the new law is based on “proven systems” in other states where rates are lower.

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