Asylum seekers arrive with their belongings at the Portland Expo Center, Monday, April 10, 2023, in Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Senate on Tuesday defeated a proposal to expand state health coverage to more undocumented immigrants, meaning the “All Means All” effort may fail to pass the Democratic-controlled Legislature for the second straight year.

The bill from House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, would allow low-income, non-U.S. citizens, including undocumented residents, some green card holders and asylum seekers, who are 21 and older to qualify for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

After the House passed the bill Monday, the Senate defeated it Tuesday without taking a roll call.

A similar measure died last year, with advocates saying too many lawmakers were hesitant to support expanded health care for immigrants ahead of the November election. This year, the debate came as cities such as Portland and Sanford have struggled to accommodate hundreds of asylum seekers and Maine continues to grapple with a lack of affordable housing.

A fiscal note said about $13.7 million would be needed for the expansion in the fiscal year beginning in July, growing to about $17 million in 2025 and 2026.

Per MaineCare eligibility rules, a single adult cannot make more than $20,124 per year, and for a family of four, the limit is $41,400.

While Republicans argued the bill would cost the state too much and further strain its health care system, the “All Means All” coalition of progressive groups supporting the bill said all people have a right to health care and Maine needs more workers as the state’s median age continues to top the nation.

Billy Kobin is a politics reporter who joined the Bangor Daily News in 2023. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked at The Indianapolis Star and The Courier Journal (Louisville, Ky.) after graduating...