Entries Filed in 'Health Care'
The Health Exchange Advisory Committee on Monday heard that while consumers are finding great improvement with the Affordable Care Act website, many Mainers are falling into the coverage gap created by Gov. Paul LePage’s refusal to accept federal health care dollars.
“Maine consumers are having a much better experience with healthcare.gov. For anyone who wants health care starting Jan. 1, now is the time to sign up, whether it’s through the website, over the phone or in person,” said Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, co-chair of the committee. “The coverage gap is a big problem. It’s clearly a problem not only for the people who don’t have insurance but also for the affordability and functioning of the entire health care system.”
The Affordable Care Act anticipated that the states would expand their Medicaid programs so more of their residents would have access to health care coverage. Because of LePage’s actions, 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans, will not have the access they were intended to have under the ACA. An estimated 25,000 Mainers who won’t have coverage through MaineCare expansion are also ineligible for subsidies through the health care marketplace.
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Maine’s economy has not improved for Maine’s children and families according to the 2013 Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual compilation of evidence-based data on the status and well-being of children in Maine.
“Investing in young children is an investment in the future prosperity of Maine,” Ned McCann, executive director of MCA, stated. “At the Maine Children’s Alliance we have been concerned that during the time that more of Maine’s children are getting poorer, fewer are receiving support to help them through their financial hardships.”
Kids Count reports that in 2011 (the most recent data available), 19.3 percent of all Maine children under age 18 were living in poverty-an increase from 18.2 percent in 2010 as reported last year. Childhood poverty varied widely across Maine’s sixteen counties, from a low of 13.6 percent in York County to a high of 31.2 percent in Washington County.
Among Maine children under age five, almost one in four were living in poverty. Along the same lines, Maine’s median income of families with children dropped to $53,400 in 2012-down slightly from $53,600 in 2011. Maine families are getting by on incomes much lower than their New England neighbors and the nation as a whole.
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The Health Exchange Advisory Committee will continue to hear about hospital outreach to the uninsured when it meets Monday. A focus of the meeting on Dec. 2, will be the consumer outreach and enrollment efforts of MaineHealth, the largest owner of hospitals and medical facilities in the state. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in Room 228 (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee) of the State House.
The hospital outreach presentation, by Carol Zechman, MaineHealth’s Access to Care Programs director, and Deborah Deatrick, the organization’s senior vice president of Community Health Improvement, continues the panel’s information gathering on hospital efforts to help uninsured Mainers gain coverage in the health care marketplace.
“Hospitals are well-positioned to help Mainers gain the security of health care coverage available through the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, co-chair of the committee. “Their leadership roles in communities across the state, their interactions with both insured and uninsured Mainers seeking care and their connections to the greater medical community give them a critical role in making the ACA work for Maine people.”
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Tags: Health and Human Services
A bill that would allow local health inspectors to inspect restaurants will be considered by the Legislature.
“Local health inspectors have years of valuable experience,” said Cooper. “They are well suited to help fill the gap created by the limited number of state inspectors.”
The state has set a goal of inspecting each eating establishment at least once every two years, but there are concerns that the state lacks the personnel to achieve this goal. Recent media reports have documented a lack of consistent inspections in some areas of the state.
A measure that would provide first responders with access to a medication that can reverse the effects of a drug overdose will be considered during the second legislative session that begins in January.Maine had an estimated 169 overdose deaths in 2010, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Rep. Sara Gideon bill would provide first responders like firefighters, emergency medical technicians and police officers with training and the ability to administer Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is not addictive and does not produce euphoria. It has no effect if there are no narcotics in someone’s system.
“We have a public health emergency, and we have the ability to address that emergency and to save people’s lives,” Gideon said. “In Maine, we have more deaths from overdose than from car accidents. The people who overdose are our neighbors, our friends and family. Their deaths are preventable.”
Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia have naloxone programs, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicated that there were 10,171 overdose reversals there between 1996 and 2010.
The Health Exchange Advisory Committee is tackling the challenges that have arisen in the health care marketplace rollout, with a focus Monday on enrollment and existing health plans that don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
The committee’s third meeting takes place Monday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. in Room 228 (Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee) of the State House. The agenda includes a federal update, a briefing with a Kentucky official on its state-based exchange and discussions on enrollment, outreach and the state’s discretion in the cancellation of existing policies. To listen to the meeting live, go to: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/
“Maine people want affordable health care. We see the demand in the number of hits on enroll207.com and the high turnout at informational forums,” said Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, co-chair of the committee. “Our panel is committed to making the system work for Maine. That could include proposing changes in approach to the Legislature if that’s what it takes.”
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Lawmakers expressed mounting frustration with the ongoing problems with the new transportation system for MaineCare patients, and the slow progress in finding solutions, during this morning’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee meeting.
“Certainly, transitions come with bumps in the road. We expected that. But this is beyond growing pains,” said Senator Dawn Hill, the Senate Chair of the committee. “The contracts were awarded because we expected the brokers to have the capacity, experience, and expertise to provide these services. People cannot wait for dialysis or a diagnosis from their doctor while the brokers get their act together.”
Since August when the Department of Health and Human Services switched from a transportation program operated by local nonprofits to a regional system run by so-called ride brokers, the new system has been plagued with failures and complaints.
Since the change, clients have had difficulty booking rides. Patients have missed appointments because rides have been delayed, or failed to show up completely. In one case, a woman’s three-year-old son with developmental disabilities was taken to the wrong house.
“The people of Maine are paying $28 million for services that are not being delivered,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, the House Chair of the committee. “This is a critically serious issue that needs to be solved immediately.”
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A special committee created to address patient care and staff safety issues at Riverview Psychiatric Center held its first meeting today. The committee was created this fall following reports of health and safety issues at Riverview, which led the federal government to pull its $200 million in funding of Riverview. Earlier this year, the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued several reports citing staffing issues, worker safety, and patient treatment at Riverview, a facility that treats both civil and forensic patients who are mentally ill.
“We’re committed to continuing to address the issues, and do everything we can to ensure we are providing the necessary treatment for patients, and that patients and staff are safe,” said Senator Stan Gerzofsky, the Senate Chair of the committee. “This is one small step in solving a very complex problem.”
In an emergency session, the Legislature passed LD 1515, “An Act to Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services,” to address some of the federal government’s concerns. The bill calls for the expansion of the mental health unit at Warren prison, and creates the Forensic Mental Health Services Oversight Committee to oversee the expansion and the provision of mental health services to patients in correctional facilities. The Maine Civil Liberties Union objects to the bill as on the grounds that it is illegal to put people accused of a crime in prison before any trial. “Innocent until proven guilty” is the standard all states must abide by. Moving patients to the state prison in Warren before any trial is unconstitutional.
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By David Cutler – a professor of economics at Harvard University
Published: November 8 on the Washington Post
The anger over the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance exchange — and over the conflicting explanations about whether people can keep their coverage — has been bipartisan and well-deserved. The administration needs to make personnel and management changes to get enrollment back on track. But the focus on insurance coverage obscures other parts of the ACA that are working well, even better than expected. It is increasingly clear that the cost curve is bending, and the ACA is a significant part of the reason.
The law has two overarching goals: Cover almost everyone, and slow the growth of medical care costs. The goals are equally important. Too little coverage, and premiums in the exchanges will be unaffordable; too rapid a cost increase, and the federal government will not be able to afford the subsidies.
Even as coverage efforts are sputtering, success on the cost front is becoming more noticeable. Since 2010, the average rate of health-care cost increases has been less than half the average in the prior 40 years. The first wave of the cost slowdown emerged just after the recession and was attributed to the economic hangover. Three years later, the economy is growing, and costs show no sign of rising. Something deeper is at work.
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From the Boston Globe: Heart-clogging trans fats have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant menus in the last decade. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is finishing the job.
The FDA planned to announce Thursday it will require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats, saying they are a threat to people’s health. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.
Hamburg said that while the amount of trans fats in the country’s diet has declined dramatically in the last decade, they ‘‘remain an area of significant public health concern.’’ The trans fats have long been criticized by nutritionists, and New York and other local governments have banned them.
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