Entries Filed in 'Healthy Lifestyles'

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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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.

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Over $1.5 million from USDA to assist with critical upgrades to rural healthcare in Maine communities

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Healthy Lifestyles, News from Washington

USDA announces over $1.5 million to assist with critical upgrades to rural healthcare in Maine communities.

“I am pleased USDA Rural Development can contribute to rural healthcare upgrades in a substantial way, through helping to provide a new healthcare facility and a brand new lifesaving ambulance for Maine residents in these two very rural areas of Maine,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.

Danforth Habilitation Association, in Danforth, has been selected to receive a Community Facility Guaranteed Loan in the amount of $1,372,724 to construct a new Intermediate Care Facility in Danforth, replacing the older facility. Danforth Habilitation Association provides 24/7 licensed nursing supervision of coordinated health treatment and rehabilitative services to individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.

Anson Madison Starks Emergency Services, in Madison, has been selected to receive a total of $161,800 (a Community Facility Direct Loan of $132,000, and a Rural Economic Impact Initiative Grant of $29,800). Funds will be used to purchase a new ambulance. The existing ambulance is in need of replacement, as it has high mileage and has reached its maximum useful life. The new ambulance will assist Anson Madison Starks Emergency Services in providing its lifesaving services for its large and very rural area of Somerset County.

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A group of mothers file paperwork with Maine’s DEP for public hearing on phthalates

May 29th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Two weeks ago Maine parents, physicians, and public health advocates delivered 2,071 petitions to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), more than ten times the number needed to compel the DEP to consider new rules for chemicals called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates). The clock started ticking on a 60-day deadline for the agency to initiate a rule-making procedure, but a public hearing was not guaranteed – until today.

“Maine parents have a right to know which products contain these dangerous chemicals,” stated Barbara DiBiase of Falmouth. “Phthalates are among the worst of the worst and put our children’s health in jeopardy. It’s time for a public hearing on what we’re going to do about it.”

This morning a group of Maine people, all of whom have been frustrated at the lack of information about which household products contain the hormone-disrupting chemicals, mailed the DEP 18 official requests for a public hearing. Five requests by Maine citizens are required to initiate a hearing under the Maine Administrative Procedures Act.

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Portland, Maine’s Positive Health Care Program receives National Award

May 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

The City of Portland announced that the Positive Health Care Program was recently honored with the Peter M. Fox Excellence in American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) Credentialing Award. Positive Health Care is part of the City of Portland’s Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Division and is part of the India Street Public Health Center. Portland’s clinic was one of 14 award recipients from across the country.

The Peter M. Fox Excellence in AAHIVM Credentialing Award is presented annually to those HIV practices where all of the eligible practitioners currently hold an American Academy of HIV Medicine AAHIVS, AAHIVE or AAHIVP credential. The award was created in memory of Peter Fox who guided the HIV credentialing program for the Academy over five years.

“The range of services Positive Health Care offers is unique,” said Program Manager Caroline Teschke. “In a typical primary care practice, HIV patients receive specialty care with another provider, resulting in fragmented services. Many of our patients lack transportation and suffer with mental health and substance abuse disorders. All of our services are offered at one location which makes patients more likely to remain engaged in care.”

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Maine moms submit petitions to force DEP to take action on chemical called Phthalates

May 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Frustrated at the lack of information about which household products contain the hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), a group of Maine parents and pregnant women decided to invoke a seldom-used option under Maine law. In March they began circulating a petition to force the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to consider new rules for the chemical. The proposed rule would elevate four phthalates to Priority Chemical status under Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Act and require manufacturers to report on their use in products sold in Maine.

This morning a crowd of supporters gathered at DEP headquarters in Augusta to submit the signatures of 2,071 Maine citizens – more than thirteen times the 150 needed to be successful – as well as a thick binder of documents providing the legal and scientific justification for the proposed phthalates rule.

“We’re here today to initiate action where action is long overdue,” said Katie Mae Simpson, a mother of two from Portland. “There are dangerous chemicals called phthalates lurking in the products we use every day. Phthalates can cause serious health effects, but parents and pregnant women don’t have the information to know where to find them or how to avoid them. Hopefully that’s about to change for the four phthalates covered by this proposal.”

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LePage’s DEP drops cancer-causing formaldehyde as ‘Priority Chemical’ under right wing pressure

May 6th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Capitol news, Civil Rights, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Today, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) formally withdrew a proposed rule that would have required manufacturers to disclose which children’s products contain formaldehyde, a widely used toxic chemical known to cause leukemia and other cancers in humans.

“Federal action on formaldehyde has been stalled by Koch brothers campaign cash and chemical industry lobbying,” said Mike Belliveau, president of Prevent Harm, a public health group. “That means Maine should lead, not follow the money. Instead, once again, Governor LePage has placed toxic politics before the health of Maine people.”

The proposed rule would have named the carcinogen a Priority Chemical under the Kid-Safe Products Act, a groundbreaking state law that seeks to protect children’s health from harmful chemicals in consumer products.

“Gov. LePage’s administration continues to undermine the health and public safety of our state. Instead of protecting consumers – and, in this case, children – he has sided with lobbyists for chemical companies. The governor has turned the Department of Environmental Protection over to the companies it should be regulating,” said Congressman Mike Michaud.

Citing federal government review, the DEP action followed the lobbying pleas of major formaldehyde producers, including Koch Industries, the industrial conglomerate owned by David and Charles Koch.

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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, Issue 40

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.

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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, Issue 40, 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.

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