Entries Filed in 'Health Care'

New census data shows thousands more Mainers do not have health care

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care

New census data released today shows thousands more Mainers are going without health care in the aftermath of Governor Paul LePage’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to federal Census Bureau data released today, the number of Mainers without any form of health care coverage grew by 12,000 in 2013 and the state uninsured rate rose from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013. Nationally, the rate of uninsured fell by .2 percent. Maine and New Jersey were the only states to experience an increase in the percentage of their people who do not have health insurance.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves, who led the effort to expand lifesaving health care to 70,000 thousands Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, said the data show Maine is going in the wrong direction.

“Maine is falling behind because our Governor and his allies put ideology over the health of our people and the strength of our economy,” said Eves. “We had a chance to provide lifesaving health care to nearly 70,000 Maine people, and instead thousands lost coverage. We had a chance to grow thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars into our economy and into our hospitals, and instead now we are lagging behind the nation in job growth and health.”

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New KeepME Home initiative to make life better for older Mainers

August 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Health Care

The Maine Council on Aging (MCOA)—made up of over 30 organizations working to ensure the well-being of Maine’s older adults—announced its support today of a package of legislative proposals presented by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves.

“Maine is the oldest state in the nation — each day more than 50 people turn 65. These numbers must be a call to action for our state leaders,” said Eves, who has who has spearheaded a statewide aging initiative to address Maine’s aging challenges. “We must transform how people age in our state so they can live independently in their communities and homes. That is the goal of the “KeepME Home” initiative.”

The “KeepME Home” initiatives announced by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves addresses several critical needs for older Mainers: affordable housing near services, access to needed home care and financial security.

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Unions, Michaud, Cain and workers across Maine join the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping across America through social media with YouTube and Facebook. The challenge is raising awareness to the deadly disease, ALS, as well as increasing donations to ALS research. Last year from July 29 to Aug. 8, $25,000 was donated to ALS. This year during that same time frame, over $2.3 million has been donated, nationally.

The idea came from Pete Frates, 29, a former captain of the Boston College team who has been battling ALS since 2011. In July Pete decided to raise awareness about his disease as the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig did when he was struck down with ALS. Frates created the Ice Bucket Challenge asking people to post recordings on social media sites that show them dumping buckets of ice cold water over themselves. If they don’t not accept the challenge within 24 hours they must donate to the charity of their choice, hopefully ALS.

In Maine many Unions have taken up the challenge along with Congressman Mike Michaud, State Senator Emily Cain, Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, and workers across the state.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis comes from Greek. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment. A loose translation of ALS is “No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As these areas degenerate it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in those regions.

To join the cause is simply: pour a bucket of ice water over your head, and then challenge a friend or co-worker to do the same within 24 hours. Post your challenge on social media and if it is not met, whomever you challenged should make a donation to ALS.


While Maine is the only state in New England without Medicaid expansion the Legislature enacted significant other healthcare laws

July 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Guest Columns, Health Care, Issue 41, State Representatives

Close to 70,000 Mainers would be covered with the Affordable Care Act. If Maine doesn't accept the funding the state will loose millions

By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz, representing Senate District 25.

With the second session of the 126th Legislature now behind us, I want to give you an update on some of what we accomplished this year and where there is still work to be done. While Governor LePage’s obstructionism threatened our progress at times, ultimately the Legislature came together to pass sound policies that will have far reaching benefits for the people of Maine.

This year, I fought hard to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder receive the care and treatment they need. As a licensed Clinical Social Worker I have worked in the mental health field for more than 25 years and have witnessed the dramatic rise in the incidence of autism and the impact it has had on Maine families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, with one in 68 children now identified with the disorder. In fact, Maine is now the state with the third highest rate of autism prevalence in the country.

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Michaud – founding member of Medicaid Caucus to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare for states not part of expansion

July 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care, Issue 41

Congressman Mike Michaud

Congressman Mike Michaud is a founding member of the new State Medicaid Expansion Caucus. The Caucus will work to highlight the need for states which have not yet expanded Medicaid to do so, citing primarily the economic impact of extending the opportunity to obtain insurance to more people. Despite bipartisan legislation supporting an extension, Maine’s governor has vetoed a Medicaid expansion five times.

“Extending reliable, affordable healthcare to Mainers who need it isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s also sound policy,” said Michaud. “Expanding Medicaid brings much-needed federal funds to Maine, spurs our economy and creates new jobs, and boosts our overall population health. I’m looking forward to working with my fellow caucus members on raising awareness about the importance of Medicaid expansion – the stakes are too high for us not to act.”

Extending Medicaid in Maine would provide healthcare coverage for nearly 70,000 Mainers – including approximately 3,000 veterans. The expansion would also stimulate upwards of $350 million in economic activity – including $250 million in additional federal funding – and create an estimated 3,100 jobs.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have extended Medicaid to date, allowing an estimated 10.5 million Americans to access affordable healthcare.

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LePage held back $4.6 million in state funding to play politics with nursing homes

July 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol photo by Ramona du Houx

 Top Democratic leaders slammed Governor Paul LePage’s administration for playing politics with money that could help struggling nursing homes across the state. LePage announced that for weeks his administration has been working on a plan to provide $4.6 million in state funding to nursing homes, in addition to the $12 million already provided by the Legislature as part of LD 1776. Funds were allocated by the Legislature without LePage’s approval for nursing homes.  But for weeks LePage has been inaccurately blaming Democrats for failing to fund nursing homes. And at a press conference the Governor bizarrely claimed credit for the bill, that helps nursing homes, although his signature is not on the law.

“The Governor’s announcement is more proof that he’s been playing politics with nursing homes. Why would he sit on $4.6 million in savings when nursing homes were struggling? And why would he call on lawmakers to return to Augusta when he already had the funding?” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “The timing of this announcement is clearly meant to distract from his poor track record for Maine seniors and his latest out-of-touch comment labeling Social Security as Welfare. It’s smoke and mirrors.”

In addition, LePage has consistently taken funds from healthcare initiatives to help balance his budgets and give a substantial tax break to Maine’s 1 percent. LePage raided the Fund for Healthy Maine, which are monies the state receives from the federal government as part of the nationwide tabacco settlement. Governor Baldacci, LePage’s predecessor, never allocated money from the Fund for a Healthy Maine for anything other than healthcare related issues, as a matter of principle. Baldacci had stated, “the health and well being of Maine citizens has to be any governor’s top priority.”

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Maine’s DEP needs to act on phthalates information to help protect innocent children

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Environment, Health Care, Public Safety, Science

Representative Matt Moonen speaking to the crowd about the dangers of phthalates.  On the right is Emily Postman, Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. courtesy photo

Representative Matt Moonen speaking to the crowd about the dangers of phthalates. On the right is Emily Postman, Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. courtesy photo

In Portland’s Monument Square in June citizens were given a chance to guess which common household products contain hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates. Hawkers offered passers-by a chance to win a prize for correctly identifying the products containing phthalates, but participants quickly realized there was no way to know, because information on phthalates is not provided on packaging or available in an internet search.

“It’s time to take the guesswork out of keeping our kids safe from phthalates. Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act is a powerful tool for helping us get better information about which products contain dangerous chemicals, but it’s not being used to its potential. The citizen-initiated rule before the DEP would help parents and pregnant women avoid dangerous products and it would create market incentives for safer alternatives. It’s simple and common sense,” said Rep. Matt Moonen, a state legislator from Portland. “I urge the DEP to adopt it quickly.”

Phthalates are commonly used to soften vinyl plastic and are routinely added to hundreds of everyday products and building materials found in the home. They are also a frequent ingredient of “fragrance” found in many lotions, cosmetics, and other personal care products.

“Our children’s health shouldn’t be a game of chance,” said Barbara DiBiase, a grandmother from Falmouth. “It’s a very frustrating situation. Parents and pregnant women have a right to know which products contain these dangerous chemicals called phthalates.”

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Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives to address annual senior volunteer celebration

June 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Rep. Mark  Eves answers questions from the press. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Rep. Mark Eves answers questions from the press. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Mark Eves of North Berwick will address The Opportunity Alliance’s annual recognition of Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions at a luncheon held in their honor at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, June 27, 2014.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation and the older population is growing rapidly. It’s projected that one in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030.

“The work of the Alliance provides an excellent model for how Maine can turn the challenges we face with our aging population into an opportunity,” said Eves, who has spearheaded a statewide initiative on aging. “The senior volunteers in these programs make a huge difference in our communities. They provide opportunity across generations and to their peers, while positively impacting so many lives.”

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LePage’s vetoes of life-saving health care costs Mainers

June 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Gov. Paul LePage’s ideological vetoes of life-saving health care for Maine citizens has further hamstrung Maine’s economy, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

According to a report in the Portland Press Herald, Maine was 39th nationally and last among the six New England states in first-quarter personal income growth, in part because Governor LePage refused to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. By failing to expand health care, Maine has forgone more than $160 million in revenue since Jan. 1, 2014 and has lost out on 4,400 jobs.

LePage is the only Governor in the country to have vetoed five different measures to expand Medicaid, including a bipartisan proposal sponsored by Assistant Republican Minority Leader Roger Katz of Augusta.

“The Governor’s ideological vetoes of health care have hurt our people and our economy,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who sponsored several measures to accept the federal funds to expand access to health care for Maine people. “Once again, we are seeing how governing by Tea Party ideology has hurt our state.”

Meanwhile, LePage wasted nearly $500,000 in taxpayer funds on the embattled and plagiarized Alexander Group contract meant to discredit efforts to expand Medicaid.

Last year, the Governor undercut a multi-million-dollar offshore wind deal with leading energy company Statoil. The project would have created a legacy industry and created hundreds of jobs by putting Maine on the cutting edge of renewable energy. He also held up investment bonds for three years–stalling shovel-ready projects and preventing the creation of hundreds of jobs across the state.

“Report after report shows us that the LePage economy is not working. Here we are again: Maine finds itself at the bottom of the pack, trailing behind most of the nation. This time, working Mainers’ personal incomes are ranked last in New England,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Mainers are frustrated with the slow recovery of jobs. We need a leader who is ready to prioritize every day Mainers and build off of our competitive advantages.”

Under Governor LePage, Maine’s job growth has remained at the back of the pack nationally. Among the 50 states, Maine ranks 46th in jobs recovered since the bottom of the recession.


DHHS unreliable ride vendor receives $5 million from the state while credibility questions remain

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Health Care, Public Safety

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

The LePage administration on Tuesday again failed to meet with the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and left unanswered major questions around the troubled MaineCare rides program, including more than $5 million in unexplained payments to a failing broker and the Department of Health and Human Services’ plan to manage the upcoming rides broker transition.

“Maine people deserve to know why the administration continues to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a failed vendor with a miserable performance record,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “For months we have sought to resolve these issues, but at each turn we are stonewalled by the administration. We can’t do it alone and we certainly can’t do it without adequate answers.”

Rather than sending a representative, DHHS provided meager written responses to pressing questions about the rides program and other important services for Maine’s most vulnerable residents.

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