August 10, 2009

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Make Plans for MMA Annual Session, September 11-13 in Bar Harbor

MMA holds its 156th Annual Session September 11-23, 2009 at the Harborside Hotel in Bar Harbor.  Personalized Medicine:  Translating Science to Clinical Practice is the theme of the CME portion of the meeting and more than 5 hours of CME are available.  Room rates have been reduced but the room block expires this week.  Members and guests may register on-line at

Program materials and a hotel reservation form were included with the July-August issue of Maine Medicine.  Members or guests needing a meeting brochure or a reservation form may also call the MMA office at 622-3374.   An Exhibitor Prospectus is available at  for any firm or company interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring the event.

This year's educational program is presented, in part, by Jackson Laboratory and the Friday, September 11th afternoon program will be held at the Laboratory facilities in Bar Harbor.  The opening night reception will also be held at the Lab following the CME program.  The Friday program opens with a keynote talk by Richard P. Woychik, Ph.D., President and CEO, Jackson Laboratory.  A world-renowned geneticist with a background in both academia and industry, Dr. Woychik came to the Jackson Laboratory in 2002.  The Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon CME program is intended to share with attendees the current state of research in the lab in the areas of cancer, diabetes, and degenerative motor neuron diseases and to match Jackson researchers with practicing clinicians in each of the fields.

On Saturday morning, the annual membership meeting will conduct the business of the Association and consider any Resolutions to be presented.  A open mic session is also planned to receive comments on the health system reform proposals currently pending before Congress and other issues of concern to members.  On Saturday evening, current President Stephanie Lash, M.D. will hand the presidential gavel to in-coming President David McDermott, M.D., M.P.H., of Dover-Foxcroft. 

Sunday, September 13th will again be Public Health Day and will begin with the 29th Annual Edmund Hardy, M.D. Road Race.  Following the 7:00 am race, the 2009 Public Health Forum will feature the topic of Public Health, Swine Flu & You:  The Practicing Physician's Role in Emerging Public Health Threats.  Moderated by Charles Danielson, M.D., presenters include Maine CDC Director Dora Mills, M.D., M.P.H., Kathy Knight, R.N., and Donald Burgess, M.D., past President of the Maine Chapter of the Maine Academy of Pediatrics.

More than 250 attendees are expected.  Make your reservations now.


Thirty-one First Year Medical Students Begin Tufts/MMC Program

The first class of students in the Maine Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine Medical School arrived in Portland on August 3rd and were welcomed by the Governor and MMC leaders.  The program is the first of its kind in New England and each year the program will accept at least 20 students from Maine.  Because of state support, private philanthropy, and MMC support, each class member from Maine will receive a scholarship for one-half of the tuition.  It is hoped that the location of the school in Maine will assist in keeping these future physicians in Maine following their residency. 

Students in the program will spend some of their time in rural communities throughout Maine, getting hands-on experience and getting used to the rural lifestyle. 

MMA's Maine Medical Education Foundation (MMEF) also is available to provide low interest loans to medical students from Maine.  These loans are available to Maine residents, regardless of the school attended, although several of the Tufts/MMC students already have been granted MMEF loans for their first year.

Congratulations to interim Dean Peter Bates, M.D., Robert Bing-You, M.D., and all of the many physicians and MMC administrators who have worked so hard to bring this idea to fruition. [return to top]

Bureau of Insurance Hosts Meeting on Tuesday Regarding Possible Fraud Unit

MMA representatives will attend a meeting at the Maine Bureau of Insurance on this coming Tuesday, August 11th to provide input on a proposal to create a Fraud Division within the Bureau.  The meeting is set for 1:00 pm Tuesday at the Bureau offices in Gardiner (Central Conference Room) and the public is invited.  Directions to the bureau are available on-line at or by calling the bureau toll-free at 800-300-5000.

The study of whether to establish a fraud unit was requested by the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Insurance & Financial Services in the context of L.D. 1285, An Act to Establish the Insurance Fraud Division within the Department of Professional & Financial Regulation, Bureau of Insurance..

Additional meetings of stakeholders are planned for August and September.  Following the meetings, the Bureau will then report back to the Insurance and Financial Services Committee in November. [return to top]

MMA Ethics Committee Meets to Consider POLST for End of Life Care

The MMA Ethics Committee, chaired by David Simmons, M.D., met on August 4th to hear a presentation on POLST, the acronym for Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.  POLST is intended to coexist with Maine's current laws and processes regarding advanced directives but is intended to provide clarity for a patient's treatment preferences related to his/her current condition in concordance with an advanced directive.  POLST is intended to promote detailed discussion between physician, patient, and family regarding end of life care options and patient preferences.  POLST was first implemented in Oregon in 1991 and was designed to improve the quality of care patients received at the end of life.

 Physicians and other health professionals in Maine have formed a modest coalition for the purpose of advancing use of POLST in end of life care.  Several facilities are piloting the use of the POLST form, including MaineGeneral, Maine Medical Center, and several nursing homes.  The POLST program appears to have the support of most of the individuals and groups who recently worked to revise Maine's Advanced Directives form in accordance with a request from the Maine Legislature.

The Ethics Committee voted at the meeting to prepare a Resolution regarding POLST to be introduced at the upcoming MMA Annual Meeting Sept. 12 in Bar Harbor.  The Resolution is intended to establish MMA as a supporter of the POLST program.

Watch for an article in the September-October issue of Maine Medicine on POLST, co-authored by Elizabeth Balsam Hart, M.D. and Laurel Coleman, M.D., FACP, both of whom were part of the program presented at the Ethics Committee meeting.

For more information on the Maine POLST Coalition, please contact Eileen F. McDonald, Maine POLST Contact, 39 Forest Ave., MHCI Section G, Portland, ME 04101 or via e-mail to





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Continuing Update on Health System Reform; Congress Now in Recess

The U.S. Senate adjourned for its August recess last Friday, a week after the House so all four members of Maine's Congressional delegation are home.  While they have a busy schedule of public events, none are planning public events specifically tailored to soliciting comments on the health care reform debate.  Recent news reports have covered some hostile exchanges between supporters and opponents of aspects of health care reform at such events in other states.  

The bipartisan subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee known as the "Gang of Six" may continue their deliberations by conference call or in person during the August break as they hope to have some consensus by mid-September.  Both of Maine's moderate Republican Senators will be key votes in the final debate and Senator Snowe is deeply immersed in it as a member of the "Gang of Six."  In addition to the Finance Committee Chair, Max Baucus (D-MT), and Ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the other members of the "Gang" are Michael Enzi (R-WY), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Despite opposition from some provider groups and 75 House members who signed a letter of opposition to Speaker Pelosi last week, the Finance Committee leans towards creation of a Medicare Preservation Commission that would establish Medicare payment policy that could be changed only by Congress.  The "Gang" also continues to discuss a Medicaid expansion aspect of its package and the potential impact on cash-strapped states.  Regarding the various financing options on the table, the group continues to spend time on a tax on high-end or "Cadillac" insurance policies.

President Obama met with members of the Finance Committee on August 6th and encouraged them to keep working on the issues.  Senate Democratic leaders have suggested that they may try to pass a bill through the budget reconciliation process if the Finance Committee doesn't reach agreement by September 15th.

You can follow the health care reform debate on the AMA's web site at: [return to top]

H1N1 Summit Scheduled for August 20th at the Augusta Civic Center

This H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit is sponsored by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and Maine Department of Education and is set for Thursday,  August 20th at the Augusta Civic Center. 

Experts forecast that the impact of H1N1 may well worsen this fall — when the regular flu season hits or even earlier when schools open.  The goal of this Summit is to help Maine prepare for the fall and to plan for a statewide H1N1 vaccination campaign.

Our goal is to promote vigilance, preparation, and a shared responsibility to mitigate the effects of H1N1 and to offer H1N1 immunization to all people in Maine later this year.

Applications have been submitted for continuing medical education credits for MDs, DOs, Nurses, EMS, Pharmacists, Dentists, and Health Educators.  A health care provider track is being planned. 

Who Should Attend: School Nurses, Other Nurses, Physicians, EMS, and Other Health Care Providers; Local and County Emergency Management Officials; Local, County, and State Government Officials; Public Safety; Home Health and Social Services Agencies; Voluntary and Faith-Based Organizations; Educators; Other Interested Parties.

Instructions: Pre-registration is required and includes lunch and materials.  PLEASE NOTE:  Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. with the conference beginning promptly at 8:30 a.m.  Registrations will be confirmed by email and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until the cutoff date, August 17th, or until the conference is full.  For registration questions, please use the contact info on the left hand side.

Online registration is available through Medical Care Development’s Meeting Services at: and Maine CDC’s website at: [return to top]

MMA Public Health Committee Meeting August 26th to Focus on Resolutions

The MMA’s Public Health Committee will hold its next meeting from 4 pm to 6 pm on August 26th, 2009 at the MMA.  Light refreshments will be available.  Please RSVP your attendance plans to and indicate whether you will be joining the meeting in person, by conference call, or by video-conferencing at the MMC Dana Center, Room #1 in Portland, Maine. 

The agenda will focus primarily on finalizing the public health resolutions for submission to the General Membership meeting in conjunction with the MMA Annual Session, September 11-13, 2009 at the Harborside Hotel & Marina.  The resolutions may cover the following topics:

  • Global Climate Change
  • Wind Energy
  • Increased Physician Involvement in the Public Health Infrastructure
  • Federal reform on the Childhood Immunization Financing structure

Updates on the following will also occur:

  • Finalizing the Public Health Forum Panel on “Public Health, Swine Flu & You:  The Practicing Physician's role in Emerging Public Health Threats,” to occur at the MMA's Annual Session on September 13, 2009, 8 am - 10:30 am; panelists to include:  Dora A. Mills, MD, MPH, Maine Public Health Director, State Health Office, Maine CDC, Kathy Knight, RN, Director, Northeastern Regional Resource Center, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and Donald Burgess, MD, Southern maine Medical Center Pediatrics.

  • September 29th - A Day Devoted to Immunizations at Maple Hill Farm, Hallowell, ME.  Sponsored by the Maine Medical Association, American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Maine Chapter.  An entire day devoted to the topic of childhood Immunizations!  Two nationally reknowned speakers will discuss the benefits and safety of immunizations to assist physicians in responding to parents' questions.  The afternoon is a working group session on financing immunizations in the state.  To register go to:

  • H1N1 influenza and the medical community response to the issue.

All MMA members are welcome to attend the Public Health Committee meetings and we encourage your participation to assist us in moving our Public Health agenda forward.  The full agenda and meeting packet will be emailed prior to the meeting to all committee members and to those members who are interested in receiving the agenda.  Past meeting minutes are posted on the Maine Medical Association's website at

The conference call number is:  1-800-989-2842, Passcode:  6223374#. [return to top]

Academic Detailing Onsite Visits Begin This Week - More than 20 Requests Received Already

MMA and MaineCare launch Academic Detailing with visits beginning this week.  The Maine Medical Association has received a state contract to develop and implement an academic detailing program designed to provide independent clinical information to Maine physicians and other prescribers of medication.  By aligning prescribing practices with the best scientific evidence on the treatment of common clinical problems, it is hoped that patient outcomes can be improved.  The program is called the "Maine Independent Clinical Information Service" or MICIS.

On-site visits begin this week, with more than 20 requests received so far.  The Academic Detailers, Noel Genova, PA-C and Erika Pierce, PA-C, are provide independent scientific evidence on the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.  The clinical modules were developed by physicians associated with Harvard Medical School, which form the basis of face-to-face discussions between the academic detailers and physicians/prescribers of medication.

The program is overseen by an advisory committee chaired by family physician Noah Nesin, MD of Lincoln, Maine.  MMA is represented on the Academic Detailing Advisory Committee (ADAC) by Kellie Miller, M.S. and Gordon Smith, Esq.  Other participants include representatives of Goold Health Systems, MaineCare, pharmacists, physicians, and consumers. 

To request a visit or learn more about this service, contact Kellie Miller, MMA staff at or 207-622-3374, ext. 229.

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MMA to Assist Maine School of Science and Mathematics

In the interest of promoting science among Maine's youth, MMA is partnering with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) Foundation to promote a sponsorship program for the projected 145 students at the school.  The program would begin in the fall of 2010.

MSSM is the state's only public residential magnet school, serving talented high school students from Maine and a few international students.  Chartered in 1995 by the 116th Maine Legislature, MSSM is also a member of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

In 2009, US News ranked MSSM the twelfth best high school in the nation, a remarkable achievement for this facility located in Limestone.

The purpose of the Sponsorship Program is to assure that every talented student offered admission is able to attend regardless of their ability  to pay the room and board fee.  The State of Maine pays the tuition for each student, but sponsoring organizations and families share paying the room and board fee currently, based upon the family's ability to pay as determined by an outside assessment.

 MMA will assist the Foundation in promoting the Sponsorship Program, in the hopes that many of these students will go into medicine and return to the state.  Watch the pages of  Maine Medicine or visit with MSSM representatives in the Exhibit area at the Annual Session to learn more about this Program.

If you have a connection with the School and would like to assist in the program, please contact Gordon Smith, MMA EVP at



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