Midcoast state representatives split along party lines on a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from cutting off payments to customers with high medical costs.

The bill, LD 1620, An Act to Protect Health Care Consumers from Catastrophic Debt,” was approved 99-38 in the House on March 11.

The bill “prohibits individual or group health plans covering Maine residents from including provisions that terminate payment of further claims after a defined maximum specified aggregate dollar amount of health care claims has been paid on an annual, lifetime or other basis on behalf of an individual, family or group.”

The bill adds exceptions to the prohibition on limits for several specific types of health plans and requires a health plan issued after the effective date of the provision to include a disclosure of a permitted limit.

The bill applies the provisions to health plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Voting for the bill were Democratic Reps. Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Edward Mazurek of Rockland, Elizabeth Miller of Somerville, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, Wendy Pieh of Bremen, House Speaker Hannah Pingree of North Haven, Joan Welsh of Rockport, John Piotti of Unity and Veronica Magnan of Stockton Springs.

“I’m certain that people who buy insurance do so in order to protect themselves from catastrophic circumstances,” Kruger said, noting he opposes the right of insurance companies to cut off customers.

Mazurek said he voted for the bill to protect the public.

“This bill protects people who pay for insurance and then have to worry about being cut off and falling into financial ruin,” Mazurek said.

Voting against the bill were Republican Reps. Wes Richardson of Warren, Jonathan McKane of Newcastle, Jayne Crosby Giles of Belfast and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport.

Richardson said he opposes mandates.

“The same people in the Legislature who complain about insurance companies increasing rates 20 percent are the ones who are adding mandates to these companies,” Richardson said.

The state Senate has yet to vote on the measure. Sen. A. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, said the Senate Republicans have yet to hold a caucus on the bill and he has yet to decide how he will vote.