Maine’s bankrupt health policy hurts thousands

November 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Health Care

Medicaid-bankruptcy-7-3-2014 by Christy Daggett

This year, 1,300 Mainers will be saddled with catastrophic health costs. Here’s how it could have been avoided – while creating thousands of jobs and boosting state GDP.

On 7-3-2014, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released a report examining the differences between states that have accepted federal healthcare funds to expand Medicaid and the minority of states – including Maine – which still have not expanded. Fittingly, the report is titled Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid.

The missed opportunities are manifold. First, rejecting billions of dollars in federal funds has predictable consequences for state economies. The states seizing the opportunity are adding jobs – 79,000 in 2014 alone – and enjoying the attendant impact on state GDP. The CEA estimates expansion states will experience $62 billion in new economic activity by 2017.

Meanwhile, non-expansion states are languishing with higher rates of uncompensated care for the uninsured tearing gaping holes in hospital budgets. In Maine, where tens of thousands of people who would be covered remain uninsured, two-thirds of hospitals are struggling with budget shortfalls and layoffs. In contrast, covering 4.3 million uninsured working poor has shored up hospital budgets in expansion states.

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Maine Governor’s race neck and neck

October 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

Public Policy Polling’s newest Maine survey finds that after three televised debates, the race for governor is still a very tight contest between incumbent Paul LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud. LePage and Michaud each have 40 percent, with Eliot Cutler trailing at 17 percent.

The biggest factor in this race remaining so close is that Cutler, consistently in a distant third place, is continuing to siphon off enough of the anti-LePage vote to keep the contest in toss-up range.

Trailing by 23 points with only 11 days to go until the election, there is virtually no way Cutler can overtake LePage and Michaud. But by splitting the anti-LePage vote, the support Cutler is pulling from Michaud could be just enough to re-elect LePage in this razor-thin contest.

Other key findings from the survey include:

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Book reviews: Endless warnings, endless wars

October 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Books

All reviews by J.Ford Huffman for Military Times

Fall in place, readers, for autumn in new work – with topics that range from COIN to comic books, college football to canines, and commanding, casualties and Section 60. Themes range from strategy to no strategy, and from loss to hope. Here’s a guide:

“Comics and Conflict: Patriotism and Propaganda From WWII through Operation Iraqi Freedom” by Cord A. Scott, 224 pages, Naval Institute Press, $49.95

With themes of “realism, politics and aesthetics,” comic books “both mirrored and manufactured popular attitudes to war,” says the scholar and fan.
Comics also “directly reflect their audience’s fantasies, nightmares, and delusions.” For example, writers worry “that children might expect Superman (1938), with his incredible powers, to resolve {World War II} by himself” so they keep him out of the military. Instead Clark Kent shows how civilians “play important parts in the war effort.”
Satire also has a part, and “the concept of patriotic superheroes pursuing political and military goals came to an apex in 1987 with ‘Reagan’s Raiders’.” That cover is one of only eight illustrations, a low number that is kryptonite in a survey of art.

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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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Vitelli: There’s a lot happening with the Maine economy but we all need a willing partner as governor

June 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic

Maine is a special place. Whether you’re a native Mainer, you moved here, or you’re vacationing here, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Our natural resources—from our lakes and oceans to our rolling hills and mountains—it’s easy to see why people want to live, work, and play here in Maine. But there’s one thing that makes Maine truly special.

Our people.

Mainers are known for our hard work; our creativity; and our determination. Perhaps it goes back to our Yankee roots. But regardless, whether you live in the smallest of Maine villages or in our state’s largest city, entrepreneurs can be found in every corner of our state. They include artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, inventors, microbrewers, creative crafters, and ambitious Main Street retailers.

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Nationwide survey shows Millennials’ favor more government involvement on many issues

May 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine

Millennials’, approximately ages 18 to 33, account for about a quarter of the voting-age population. They, surpass the number of seniors eligible to vote. Results of a nationwide survey conducted by Democratic polling firm Harstad Strategic Research for the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America, measures their attitudes on a range of issues.

Pollsters interviewed about 2,000 Millennials in late March and April. Here are a few key takeaways from the results:

Millennials favor more government involvement on many issues

On the economic and social issues included in the poll, Millennials overwhelmingly support more government intervention. Across all issues surveyed, an average of 72 percent of this bright young group of voters supported greater government involvement.

A Chart from with data from the survey:

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Controversial Alexander Group report another example of LePage mismanagement

May 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, State Representatives

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

By Rep. Farnsworth- the House chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee

What can a million dollars get the state of Maine? Well, if you’re Governor Paul LePage the answer is a whole lot of talking points from a Tea Party ally for the campaign trail – but nothing that actually helps Maine people.

You may have already heard about the controversial Alexander Group. This Rhode Island firm is led by the former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Gary Alexander. Under his mismanagement, Pennsylvania lost $7 million in the consolidation of home care worker contracts. Mr. Alexander also cut off health care for 89,000 children – including kids with life-threatening illnesses who were mistakenly deemed ineligible.

Those things alone should have been huge red flags. But the governor secretly awarded the Alexander Group a $925,000 no-bid contract to study health care expansion and anti-poverty programs.

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LePage’s sudden push for nursing homes is hypocritical compared with three year record of harm

May 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Editorials, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville.

One of the reasons I ran for the State Senate is to help our seniors. And I’m especially proud to be a member of the state’s Health and Human Services Committee where we spent much of our time troubleshooting challenges facing our aging population. And so as a first term lawmaker, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that the governor was falsely accusing Democrats of failing to fund our nursing homes.

When I first heard that Governor LePage flipped the script and blamed Democrats for not doing enough to help our seniors, I scratched my head…figuring Governor LePage forgot about all that the Democrats and the Legislature did this session to help our seniors, including a big bump in funding for Maine’s nursing homes.

I also wondered if Governor LePage remembered that a bill, sponsored by my colleague Democratic State Senator Margaret Craven, increased funding to our nursing homes by $12 million starting in just six weeks on July 1st. I figured he also forgot about the bipartisan, nearly unanimous budget that allocated $10 million—with a federal match of more than $16 million— for our nursing homes for the next two years. Governor LePage vetoed that bill too.

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Maine people lose when ideological vetoes sustained

May 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Issue 40, State Representatives

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

182. That’s the number of vetoes Governor Paul LePage has issued since he took office. The number isn’t just excessive, it’s unprecedented.

The governor’s veto spree hit bipartisan, commonsense measures that would help small businesses, veterans, women, children and farmers and fishermen across our state. Instead of working with lawmakers from both parties, he has taken a “my-way-or-the highway” approach that hurts our state.

The governor’s veto spree may make for good editorial cartoons and water cooler conversation, but it’s no way to run a government. Leaders shouldn’t use our difference of opinion as an excuse to stop things from getting done – especially when Maine’s economy is struggling.

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Neil Rolde: The budget from hell, or heaven if you’re one of the 1 percent

May 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, Guest Columns, Neil Rolde

By Neil Rolde
Congressman Paul Ryan always reminds me of a medieval court jester. Although not gussied up in the belled cap and four-color doublet of a fool’s costume, his sharp-nosed profile, glittering eyes and slender build stamps him as an heir to those quick-witted souls who spent their lifetime amusing royalty in somewhat the manner of a brainy animal pet.

Yet Paul Ryan does have human attributes. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so sly and quietly ferocious. Some critics (mostly fellow Republicans) have pointed out his diabolical self-serving interest in producing the Budget From Hell. It was nothing less, they claimed, than an effort to exonerate himself in their eyes from the fact that at a crucial time, he had led the effort to produce a budget in tandem with the Democrats that would keep the U.S. government functioning. The hard right so-called Tea Partyers (how I cringe as an historian whenever I hear that distortion of the group of 18th century patriots fighting for representation not tax evasion) blistered Ryan. The Congressman from Wisconsin then simply cobbled together a blue print for the Republican Party that would satisfy the fanatics.

The red meat that Ryan threw to these Inegalitarian’s included ending Medicare and Medicaid and turning health care 100 percent back to the health insurance companies. A small subsidy would be included under Ryan’s plan for everyone to BUY health policies. I recently had a case of shingles diagnosed at a hospital emergency room out of state. The bill for that one visit was almost $1,000. Thank God for Medicare.

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