Entries Filed in 'Healthy Lifestyles'

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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Maine’s area agencies on aging launch Money Minders Program

April 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Healthy Lifestyles, Public Safety

Many of Maine’s older adults are living independently with strong networks of friends, are active in their communities and have trusted family members. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for all older Mainers and far too many have no one to help them when they need it. When the need involves managing money, this can leave older adults vulnerable and at risk of losing their independence.

“Many older adults need assistance managing their bills and checkbooks for a variety of reasons,” said Jessica Maurer, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “Whether they have trouble physically writing checks, have never had to manage a checkbook or budget or want some protection against the barrage of frauds and scams aimed at them, Money Minders can offer them peace of mind.”

Thanks to a generous grant by the John T. Gorman Foundation, Maine’s five Area Agencies on Aging have just launched a statewide program called Money Minders which is aimed at helping older adults maintain their independence and peace of mind. The Money Minders Program matches trained, supervised, bonded volunteers with adults 55 and older who need help establishing a monthly budget and ensuring that all bills get paid in a timely and accurate manner. The program is free for clients who meet low to moderate income and asset guidelines and other eligibility criteria.

In addition to helping people avoid frauds and scams, our volunteers help clients connect to other services they need as they age and offer much needed socialization to those who are isolated. In 2012, the Department of Justice estimated that 1 in 9 adults over 60 will be a victim of elder abuse and financial exploitation each year. Financial exploitation is the second most common form of elder abuse.

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First Lady to host 3rd recipe challenge for kids with White House dinner

March 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Education, Healthy Lifestyles, News from Washington

 

First Lady Michelle Obama, for the third time, is teaming up with Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host a nationwide recipe challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among America’s youth.

 “The Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ is one of my favorite events to host at the White House, and I am thrilled to announce the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.  This event gives us the opportunity to showcase healthy creations from talented kids from across our country,” said the First Lady.  “I’m looking forward to seeing—and tasting—this year’s selections.  So young chefs, get creative and get cooking!”

Teaching kids to cook is a great way to ensure our children learn healthy habits early in life.  Research shows that children who help with cooking and meal preparation are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, and they are more aware of the importance of making healthier food choices.  The third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” encourages kids across the country to come up with healthy, original creations.

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Maine’s Gov. LePage’s bills that harm families in crisis and nix key job training program rejected

March 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Healthy Lifestyles

Democrats on the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday advanced three measures that would prevent fraud or abuse in Maine’s anti-poverty programs.They also rejected harmful proposals by Governor Paul LePage to eliminate successful job training programs and shift the state’s share of General Assistance costs to cities and towns.

“If there is fraud, no matter how small, it should be investigated and prosecuted, not politicized,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth, the House Chair of the committee. “We are directing the Governor to investigate that fraud and prosecute it, if it is real. He should stop using it to pull the rug out from struggling families, especially at a time when Maine has one of the worst job growth records in the nation.”

In a largely party line vote, the committee passed three bills:

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Maine bill to expand autism insurance coverage advances

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

Earlier today, the Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Colleen Lachowicz to expand health insurance coverage for children with autism spectrum disorder. There is no medication to treat autism. Treatment options include working with someone specially trained in how to provide a consistent structure and review the connection between the child’s behavior and their environment.

“This measure will result in more children receiving the critical care and treatment they need for autism,” said Senator Lachowicz, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. “Parents of children with serious behavioral challenges are struggling to get help. They work hard to find services that will work for their children, and they deserve adequate insurance coverage.”

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Mainers are polluted with dangerous chemicals according to new report

March 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Environment, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

Don Marean, a Republican state legislator from Hollis, wants to know why his exposure to the chemical called DEHP was more than 30 times higher than the typical American. Katie Mae Simpson, a mom from Portland, wonders why the levels of phthalates in her body are twice as high as her husband Zach Bouchard, even though the couple routinely avoids PVC plastic and personal care products that contain synthetic fragrances.

“No child should be exposed to chemicals that cause learning disabilities, reproductive problems, obesity, and asthma,” stated Emma Halas-O’Connor, Coordinator for the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. “These 25 Maine people come from different places, have different jobs, and are different ages. But there is one thing they all have in common: phthalates are in their bodies. This report offers more than testing results; it captures the human story behind this pervasive and dangerous chemical.”

Maine people are polluted with chemicals called phthalates, according to a new report released today by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. The report, titled “Hormones Disrupted: Toxic Phthalates in Maine People”, captures the stories and reactions of 25 Mainers who provided urine samples to test for the presence of seven different phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), a group of hormone-disrupting chemicals that are widely used in consumer products.

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Maine leaders on aging release blueprint for statewide action

March 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

After eight months of collaborative work, Maine leaders on aging released a comprehensive “Blueprint for Action” to tackle the challenges the state faces with its rapidly greying population.

The action plan will be carried out in a statewide “Aging Initiative” led by Speaker of the House Mark Eves and the Maine Council on Aging, a public policy organization on aging issues.

“Our blueprint for action is focused on ensuring seniors can age with dignity in our communities,” said Speaker Eves. “For months now, we’ve worked collaboratively with hundreds of local leaders to identify the key steps we can take to ensure seniors have access to affordable housing, transportation, health care, and opportunities in the workplace. I’m grateful to the Maine Council on Aging for their leadership and to the many participants who volunteered their time and expertise to outline our comprehensive blueprint for action.”

The nation is seeing the biggest demographic shifts in history, and Maine is at its epicenter. One in four Mainers will be over the age 65 in the next two decades.

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Maine’s Health Care “alternative” would leave 36,000 behind

March 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

The Affordable Care Act federal funds are expected to generate $1 million per day in economic activity and 4,000 jobs at a time when Maine ranks 50th in the nation for private sector job growth. For the first three years under the Affordable Care Act the state would not pay a penny for the program. After that the state would only have to pay 10 percent or less. All the state has to do is tell Washington, D.C. we want to participate in the ACA. But Governor Paul LePage vetoed any chance last year of that happening. Now the Democrats have put it back on the table and Republicans have put forward their own proposal. Both measures would have to have a two-thirds vote to override a LePage veto. Lawmakers are hoping to merge the two proposals.

Opponents of the bipartisan effort to provide health care to 70,000 Mainers are proposing a false “alternative,” which would leave 36,000 Mainers without care. Some are even encouraging Mainers to falsify their income in order to qualify for the health subsidies on the federal exchange. Federal law makes clear that individuals earning income under 100 percent of the federal poverty level are not eligible for financial assistance to purchase private insurance on the health exchange.

In a column printed in the Morning Sentinel, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Michael Thibodeau suggests those earning under 100 percent of the federal poverty level should knowingly overestimate their income in order to qualify.

“Maine should not turn its back on tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens, including veterans, low wage workers and those recovering from serious illness. We certainly shouldn’t be suggesting they falsify their income levels to qualify for subsidies on the insurance exchange,” said Speaker Mark Eves. “Lawmakers should seize the opportunity to come together around a good-faith compromise to ensure Maine families can have access to a family doctor.”

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Legislative panel advances measure to provide Health Care to 70,000 Mainers

March 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee advanced a measure to accept the federal government’s offer to expand health coverage to 70,000 Mainers including nearly 3,000 veterans, today.

Governor LePage had vetoed the Affodable Care Act funds for Maine last year even though it would cost the state $0 for three years. And only less than 10 percent after that. LePage’s action put the lives and livelihoods of 70,000 people at risk. Now lawmakers are trying to compromise to make sure they have a 2/3 rds majority vote to override LePage.

A proposal by Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz would accept the federal funds with a sunset provision after three years, while also putting in place a managed care plan to reduce program costs. It would also reduce the waitlist for homecare services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities, addressing a key talking point for Republican opponents.

“We’ve come so far with a compromise bill that will provide health care to tens of thousands of Maine people,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth, the House Chair of the Committee. “Despite political pressure from the Governor and his allies, we have a Republican-sponsored health care bill that will save lives, save state dollars, and boost jobs at a time when Maine has the worst job growth in the country. ”

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