Entries Filed in 'Health Care'

Maine youth mental health gap coverage bill to smooth transition to independence goes to governor

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Health Care

A bill to provide continuity of mental health support for young people after they graduate from high school passed in the Legislature.

LD 1367, addresses the fact that first instance of a severe mental illness often occurs during early adulthood, often after the young person is cut off from support systems available at school.Individuals who are 16 to 25 years old are at high risk of developing a mental illness or substance use disorder, and are at high risk for suicide.These youth are among the least likely to seek help and, as a result, they may fall through the cracks and not receive the help they need to assume safe and productive adult roles and responsibilities.

“This is a commonsense measure to provide real support to those who need it after they graduate from the public school system,” said Rep. Anne Graham,the bill’s primary sponsor and a pediatric nurse practitioner. “I see this bill as an example of the compassion needed to address Maine’s mental health needs.”

Read more ›

Tags:

Eve’s private option ACA healthcare provision moves forward

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care

In a 19-14 vote, the Senate approved an amended version of a bill to increase access to health care with a private option component modeled after New Hampshire’s program.

“I will support any reasonable compromise that brings health care to more Maine people,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, who sponsored his own expansion bill, LD 1640. “If we can save even one life with this compromise, to me, it’s worth it.”

The amendment to the bill, LD 1578, would require federal funds to purchase private health insurance through the federal health insurance exchange created through the Affordable Care Act. It is modeled after New Hampshire’s bipartisan health protection program proposed by New Hampshire Senate members and passed by their full legislature.

Read more ›

Tags:

Eves offers final compromise on life-saving Health Care bill

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Speaker of the House Mark Eves will offer a final compromise on his bill to accept federal funds to provide life-saving health care to 70,000 Maine people, including 2,700 veterans.

“This proposal is dramatically different from the prior effort to expand health care to Maine people,” said The Speaker of the House, Mark Eves. “I propose this in good conscience and in good faith as one last effort to provide critical health care that will both save lives and boost our economy.”

The amendment to the bill, LD 1578, would require federal funds to purchase private health insurance through the federal exchange marketplace. It is modeled after New Hampshire’s bipartisan health protection program proposed by New Hampshire Senate members and passed by the full legislature.

“Our neighboring state of New Hampshire has recently successfully passed a version of Medicaid expansion that puts the vast majority of people on the private health insurance exchange. Arkansas has also been able to do this,” said Eves. “Both states successfully negotiated an agreement while having a divided government. I have to believe, and hold out hope, that if New Hampshire can do this in a divided government, we can do it.”

Read more ›

Tags:

Maine parents protest by returning products containing toxic chemicals to Walgreens in Portland, Bangor

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Two dozen parents, pregnant women, and medical professionals showed up at Walgreens drug stores in Portland and Bangor, April 16th, to return a variety of products that contain high levels of the chemical phthalates, according to new testing results released today by HealthyStuff.org. Participants called on the national pharmacy chain to do more to keep these dangerous chemicals off store shelves.

“Walgreens and other giant retailers have an important role to play in making everyday products safer,” stated Emma Halas O’Connor, Coordinator for the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. “We need lawmakers to set science-based standards and we also need large companies like Walgreens to mind the store and use their market power to increase demand for safer alternatives. No child should be exposed to the hormone havoc of phthalates while they play with their favorite toy or get ready for their next day at school.”

Phthalates are known to cause serious health effects, including abnormal development of male sex organs; learning and behavior problems; diabetes; increased rates of asthma and allergies; and greater risk of prostate and testicular cancer. They are commonly used to soften vinyl plastic and are routinely added to hundreds of everyday products and building materials found in the home, including lunch boxes, kids’ backpacks, school supplies, rain coats and boots, shower curtains, tablecloths, floor tiles and wall covering. Phthalates are also a common ingredient of “fragrance” found in many cosmetics, lotions and other personal care products.

Read more ›

Tags:

Access to Narcan, a life saving drug, approved by lawmakers despite Maine Gov. LePage veto threat

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care, Public Safety

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

In a unanimous vote, the Senate gave initial approval to a measure to increase access to a proven life-saving medication that can reverse opioid overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, naloxone also known by its brand name, Narcan, has reversed more than 10,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2010.

“I can tell you that most of the time, we are the first to arrive at the scene. Having a safe, accessible, and fast-acting antidote to a heroin overdose will undoubtedly save lives,” said Senator David Dutremble, who works as an emergency responder for the Biddeford Fire Department. “As a first-responder, I urge Governor LePage to once again reconsider his threat of a veto and instead help us help those who are struggling with addiction in our state.”

Under current law, paramedics may administer naloxone and advanced EMTs may do so only with approval from a hospital for each instance. The amended measure would allow law enforcement officers and firefighters to carry and administer naloxone if they have received appropriate medical training. The bill also allows individuals and family members of those in danger of overdosing to obtain a prescription for the drug.

Read more ›

Tags:

Task force to find funds to end student hunger becomes law without LePage’s signature

April 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Public Safety

A law to establish a task force aimed at ending student hunger became law on Wednesday without the signature of the governor.
The new law establishes a task force in Maine that would explore different ways to increase student access to food, including leveraging millions of dollars in federal funding available to provide school breakfast and lunch to students.

“Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative is thrilled,” said Amy Regan Gallant, Preble Street Advocacy Coordinator. “The Task Force will facilitate the expansion of school breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, summer meals, and the new community eligibility provision to reduce student hunger across the state. These critical programs are significantly underutilized, leaving $30 million in federal funds out of Maine’s schools.”

According to the USDA, Maine has the 3rd highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, up from 7th last year, with one in five Maine children experiencing food insecurity. About 20 percent of children in Maine are food insecure, and USDA research has shown that households with children experience an increase in food insecurity during the summer.

Read more ›

Tags:

Mike Michaud tours Togas, VA Hospital to help veterans needs progress

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care, Issue 40, News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud on a tour of Togus, VA hospital. courtesy photo

Congressman Mike Michaud on a tour of Togus, VA hospital. courtesy photo

Congressman Mike Michaud met with veterans today at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta. Rep. Michaud was joined by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the House. Michaud serves as the Ranking Member on Veterans’ Affairs.

While visiting Togus, Michaud and Miller had breakfast with veterans, received a tour of the administrative and medical facilities, and got an overview of Togus’ operations. Michaud and Miller also participated in a roundtable discussion with veterans to hear about the challenges they face, and got their insight on how Congress can help.

“I had the opportunity to talk with a number of veterans at Togus VA Medical Center this morning about their personal experiences,” said Michaud. “It was a first-hand reminder of the obligation we have to ensure our veterans are receiving the highest-quality care possible. They have sacrificed so much for our nation, and we owe them the best in return. I’d like to thank Rep. Miller for joining me on today’s visit – our Committee shares the common goal of working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure our veterans are treated with the dignity and respect they so deserve.”

It’s not the first visit to Togas the Congressman has made. A few years back Congressman Michaud invited the Sec. of Veteran’s Affairs, Ed Shinseki to the facility twice. And while the Sec. was here Michaud got changes made that will help Veterans. In one endeavor Michaud was able to get land allocated to Togas put aside to build homeless “Cabins in the Woods.” Read more here.

Tags:

LePage’s veto of ACA funds keeps healthcare from 70,000 Mainers

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care

In a 22-13 vote, Senate Republicans sustained Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a Republican-sponsored compromise measure to accept federal funds to provide healthcare to 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans. Overriding vetoes requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.

According to an evaluation by Harvard and the City University of New York, Maine could save around 157 lives per year by accepting federal funds.

“Today, some Republicans engaged in a partisan stand-off,” said Senator John Cleveland. “This was a reasonable compromise where we found common ground. But today, too many Republicans chose party line politics.”

The veto was sustained even after the Appropriations Committee unanimously recommended a bipartisan budget proposal that funds DHHS waitlist services for people with disabilities, addressing a key argument Governor LePage and his allies have used to oppose health care expansion.

“It’s a sad day for the State of Maine when 70,000 people are denied health care. This is a sensible bill that addressed many of the barriers preventing our colleagues from accepting expansion, including managed care, a sunset provision, and increased fraud investigators,” said Democratic Senator Margaret Craven. “Despite these changes, most of our Republican colleagues still would not support this compromise bill. ”

Read more ›

Tags:

Budget eliminates and reduces DHHS wait lists for people with disabilities, ups reimbursements for struggling nursing homes

April 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Capitol news, Health Care

Early Wednesday morning, lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing panel, the Appropriations Committee, unanimously endorsed a roughly $30 million budget proposal.

The funding measure closes a MaineCare shortfall in fiscal year 2015, while also funding $5 million for services for people with disabilities on the DHHS wait lists and $5 million in additional reimbursement for Maine’s struggling nursing homes.

“Our bipartisan proposal provides critical funding for our seniors, individuals with disabilities, and for those suffering from mental illness,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo. “For months, lawmakers have emphasized the importance of moving our most vulnerable citizens off of wait lists for homecare. At the same time, we’ve also heard from our nursing homes about the crisis they face, especially in rural areas, where some may be forced to close their doors. We took a responsible and collaborative approach to address both of these concerns.”

The funds would eliminate and reduce the wait lists, allowing hundreds of individuals with severe disabilities to get critical home based care services. It also provides $2 million for critical services required under the state’s court ordered mental health consent decree and increases funds for safety and security at Riverview and Dorothea Dix by $908,460.

“We’re grateful that the Appropriations Committee understands the value and services Dorothea Dix offers, being one of only two hospitals that help with the challenges our mentally ill face. However, the facility has not recovered from the state’s last cuts and we need to further enhance this unique asset’s mission by reopening and admitting more patients. The need has been clearly documented, now it’s time for the state to take real positive action protecting the health and wellbeing of our citizens and their communities,” said Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci.

Read more ›

Tags:

Michaud stands against efforts to deny Americans employer-sponsored health coverage

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Health Care, News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud today voted against H.R. 2575, legislation that would make it easier for employers to deny hardworking Americans healthcare coverage. The bill changes the definition of a full-time work week under the Affordable Care Act from 30 to 40 hours a week – and in the process puts at risk the employee-sponsored health coverage of one million people, according to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“Mainers deserve access to the highest quality of healthcare available – and that is why I have always been open to common-sense measures that work toward that outcome,” said Michaud. “But making it easier for people to lose their healthcare is not the answer. This legislation will not do anything at all to improve access to or quality of healthcare for anyone – in fact, just the opposite.”

In addition to depriving Americans of healthcare coverage and adding to the number of uninsured, House Republicans have not specified how they will pay for this legislation. According to CBO estimates, this legislation will increase the deficit by $74 billion.

Read more ›

Tags: