August 24, 2009

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Over 1400 Turn Out for H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit

Over 1400 persons attended the state's H1N1 Summit on Friday at the Augusta Civic Center to be better prepared for an anticipated increase in cases of the flu this fall. Advertised as, Promoting vigilance, preparation, and a shared responsibility to mitigate the effects of H1N1 and to offer H1N1 vaccine to all people in Maine later this year, the program was kicked off by Dora Anne Mills, M.D., MPH, State Health Officer and Director of the Maine CDC and Governor John E. Baldacci. 

A general theme of the day-long conference was that is better to be safe than sorry.  Attendees included physicians, other health caregivers, teachers, municipal officials, emergency providers, nurses, public health officials and school administrators. 

Maine Officials aren't sure whether they will need to confront an H1N1 swine flu pandemic this fall.  But they are still preparing for one.  Maine has identified 354 cases of H1N1, which include 19 individuals requiring hospitalization and one individual who has died. Of Maine residents with H1N1, 60 percent have been under 25 years of age. The number of cases is only a barometer of community transmission, not of actual case counts, because not all people with infection are tested.  

The Maine CDC officials indicated that a statewide, mass media campaign would occur, as well as media updates provided by the CDC.  Participants attended breakouts that included the following:

1)     A Vaccine Refresher, facilitated by Nancy Dube, RN, MPH, Ellen Bridge, RN, BS, MTS and Janet Morrissette, RN, MSN

2)     H1N1 In-Depth for Health Care Providers facilitated by Dr. Stephen Sears, MD, MPH, FACP and Andrew Pelletier, MD, MPH

3)     Organizers of Large Scale Vaccine Clinics facilitated by Mary E. Jude, FNP-C, PA, MSN, MPH, Director, Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, MeCDC

4)     Community Response: Town Hall Meeting, facilitated by Jay Bradshaw, Director, Maine EMS, Commissioner Susan Gendron, DOE, Don Hoenig, DVM, Rob McAleer, Director MEMA, Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Public Health Services, Maine CDC and Peter F. Smith, PhD, Director, Division of Infectious Disease, Maine CDC.

The afternoon breakout sessions comprised of H1N1 Vaccine Tabletop Exercises, with each facilitator leading the participants through a collaborative process to discuss and answer a set of questions to help build a plan for offering H1N1 vaccine to all people this fall, with a focus on those at high-risk.  This day long planning process assisted the Maine CDC District H1N1 Vaccine Coordinators, Regional Resource Centers, City Public Health Departments, and others to jump start their district planning for H1N1 vaccine distribution and administration this fall.  (The full agenda and Powerpoint presentation provided by Dr. Dora Mills can be found at 

Vaccine Distribution and Administration Planning:

Maine CDC field staff located in each DHHS District will serve as District Vaccine Coordinators, who will identify those populations prioritized to receive H1N1 Influenza vaccine who often do not have easy access to vaccine through the health care system. They will work with district and local partners to determine the most efficient and effective means for offering the vaccine to these priority groups.

Vaccine Coordinators will be one component of district leadership teams, which also include staff from the three Regional Resource Centers for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, and Emergency Management Agencies.

The Maine CDC District H1N1 Vaccine Coordinators are: (additional information can be found at

District 1 - York: Sharon Leahy-Lind, 490-4625

District 2 - Cumberland: Meredith Tipton, 592-5631

District 3 - Western Maine: MaryAnn Amrich, 753-9103

(Franklin, Oxford, and Androscoggin counties)

District 4 -  Mid Coast: Jen Gunderman-King, 596-4278

(Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc counties)

District 5 - Central Maine: Sue Lee, 592-5644

(Somerset and Kennebec counties)

District 6 - Penquis: Debra Roy, 592-5633

(Penobscot and Piscataquis counties)

District 7 - Downeast: Jen Gunderman-King/Cindy Look, 596-4278

(Washington and Hancock counties)

District 8 - Aroostook: Sharon Ramey, 592-5632

Tribal Vaccine Coordinator: Jerolyn Ireland, 532-2240, Ext. 15

Supply of H1N1 vaccine will only begin to be available in limited amounts in mid-October so physicians are urged to begin seasonal flu immunization of patients as soon as possible. Seasonal flu vaccine is now in the market and provides no defense against novel H1N1. It is expected that novel H1N1 vaccine will require 2 shots separated by 3-4 weeks, so scheduling patients through offices will be a challenge.

Your GO TO Resource link is .  All MeCDC updates and alerts can be found here.  Every Wednesday, new updates are posted.  For additional information, don't hesitate to contact Kellie Miller, M.S., Director of Public Health Policy at or 622-3374, ext. 229.

Updated information will be available at the Maine Medical Association's 2009 Annual Session during the Public Health Forum , "Public Health Swine Flu & You:  The Practicing Physician's role in Emerging Public Health Threats" scheduled for Sunday, September 13th, 8am -10:30am at the Harborside Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Moderated by Dr. Charles Danielson, with the following panelists:

  • 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
  • Donald Burgess, MD, Southern Maine Medical Center Pediatrics

To register and attend the MMA's 2009 Annual Session and Public Health Forum, go to:

Not Too Late to Register for MMA Annual Session, Sept. 11-13 in Bar Harbor

There will likely never be a more important time to join your professional colleagues to discuss the future of health care in Maine and in the nation than at the upcoming MMA Annual Meeting Sept. 11-13, 2009 at the Harborside Hotel and Marina in Bar Harbor.  While the hotel room block is sold out, MMA has a list of alternative housing possibilities, many of which are within walking distance of the meeting.  If you are interesting in attending but haven't yet registered, you may do so on the MMA website at  If you have any questions or would like to have the alternative housing list sent to you, please call Diane McMahon at MMA at 622-3374 ext. 216 or via e-mail to

Seven and one-half hours of CME are available and daily fees are available if you are unable to attend the entire conference which begins at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, Sept. 11 and concludes at 10:30am on Sunday morning, Sept. 13.  The Friday afternoon program and the opening night reception will be held at the Jackson Laboratory, just a short distance from the Harborside.

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MaineCare Re-enrollment for MIHMS is now Open for Cycle 1 Providers

The MIHMS provider portal is now open for Cycle 1 of provider re-enrollment.  A re-enrollment notice is being mailed to all current MaineCare providers.  This letter can be found on the MaineCare web site at  under the headline “Re-enrollment Portal Now Available”.

The URL for the MIHMS provider portal, where re-enrollment takes place is

(The web address for the portal is misstated in the first set of Cycle 1 provider letters, but has been corrected in the letter posted on the web site.)

The schedule for re-enrollment is:

Cycle 1:  Now through September 16

Cycle 2:  September 17 through October 14

Cycle 3:  October 15 through November 13

Providers should not attempt to re-enroll prior to their assigned dates. 

The re-enrollment application is being updated to reflect policy revisions and attempting to re-enroll early will result in an inability to complete the re-enrollment application. The assignment of provider organizations to re-enrollment cycles can be found on the MaineCare web site at within the “Provider Re-enrollment Information” box.

Questions regarding re-enrollment can be sent to [return to top]

AMA Schedules Conference Call on Health Care Reform Thursday at 6 p.m.

Get the inside scoop on health legislation

Reserve your spot for the AMA Physicians Forum today!

AMA Physicians Forum
6:00 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 27
Featuring AMA leadership

The American Medical Association (AMA) invites you to participate in the AMA Physicians Forum, featuring an exclusive conference call with AMA Immediate Past President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD.

Join us at 6:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 27, to get inside information about health system reform straight from Washington, D.C.— and get your questions answered. This is a private conference call for a limited number of physicians in your area. If you are unable to join us, your spot will be given to a physician on the waiting list.

We look forward to your participation!

To participate in the AMA Physicians Forum:

On Thursday dial in to the call using the number and code below:

  • Dial (877) 269-7289 
  • Enter ID code 13149

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Health Care Reform Still News During August Recess/White House Schedules Conference Call for Physicians Tomorrow

President Obama and Congressional leaders continue to debate the key issues in national health care reform during the August Congressional recess.  The President maintains a preference for a public plan option, but says he is open to other ways to achieve the goals of choice and competition.  The Senate seems to be leaning towards the insurance co-op concept advocated by Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), one of the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" still striving for a bipartisan compromise.  Maine's Senior Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R) also is a member of the "Gang of Six."  As it looks less likely that Republicans will endorse any health care reform bill, Senate Democrats are talking about using the budget reconciliation process to pass a reform bill by a simple majority.  The President's wavering on the public plan option has caused a negative reaction among more liberal members of Congress.  On August 20, 2009, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) stated that at least 60 House members would not support any health care reform bill without a strong public option.

Against this backdrop, the AMA has advised us today that the White House has scheduled a conference call for physicians on health insurance reform for tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 8:30 p.m. EDT using the following number:  800-230-1096.  Physicians are asked to email questions in advance to

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State Representative Anne Perry, FNP (D-Calais) Hosts Meeting on Drug Disposal Legislation

On Wednesday, August 19, 2009,  HHS Committee House Chair Anne Perry hosted a meeting to discuss issues with L.D. 821, An Act to Support Collection and Proper Disposal of Unwanted Drugs, a bill carried over to the Second Regular Session of the 124th Maine Legislature beginning in January 2010.   An amended version of the bill offered by Representative Perry would use a "product stewardship" approach to this disposal problem and would require "a manufacturer of 'covered drugs' sold in Maine [to] participate, individually or together, in a program to collect, transport, recycle or dispose of unwanted 'covered' drugs from residential sources."  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be the lead regulatory agency for the program.  PhRMA and other industry representatives expressed concern about the scientific and policy basis for such an approach.  The unused drug disposal initiative in Maine began with legislation in the 121st Legislature in 2003 (L.D. 1826, An Act to Encourage the Proper Disposal of Unused Pharmaceuticals [P.L. 2003, Chapter 679; effective 7/1/05]).  This bill, also sponsored by Representative Perry largely was the work of the MMA's Public Health Committee and the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians (MAPP).  While environmental concerns were part of the rationale for organized medicine's support for the initiative, the primary concern was the growing (at that time) concern about drug diversion in Maine.  

The MMA has taken no formal position on this "product stewardship" approach to the unused drug disposal problem, but the Legislative Committee will consider L.D. 821 again before the HHS Committee holds work sessions on it next winter.  The MMA also will participate in the working group mentioned above that plans several more meetings this fall.  If you have an opinion on this legislation, please contact Andrew MacLean, Deputy EVP, at or by phone at 622-3374, ext. 214. [return to top]

Quality Counts! Presents Maine Healthcare Forum on Thursday, August 27 in Lewiston

Quality Counts, a participant in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aliging Forces for Quality Initiative to improve health and healthcare in Maine, will present a healthcare forum in Lewiston on this coming Thursday (August 27) from 4:00 to 7:00pm.  The forum will be held at the Ramada Lewiston-Auburn Conference Center at 490 Pleasant St. in Lewiston.

Over one hundred individuals have registered to attend the event which will feature presentations on quality improvement and a panel discussion entitled, Aligning Forces for Quality:  Highlights Through Examples.  Panel topics include:

  • Consumer Engagement
  • Disparities
  • Quality Improvement - Hospitals
  • Quality Improvement-Doctors' Offices
  • Performance Measurement & Public Reporting

Breakout sessions on the five discussion areas will follow the panel discussion.

Persons interested in attending and not yet registered should contact Marguerite Ridgway at the Quality Counts office at 622-3374 ext. 218.

Quality Counts is a non-profit organization,  governed by a board consisting of representatives of several organizations, including MMA.  The organization is committed to working together across organizations and across communities to improve healthcare systems and outcomes with the people of Maine.  Its goals are to improve health status, promote consistent delivery of high quality care, improve access to heathcare and contain healthcare costs. [return to top]

For more information or to contact us directly, please visit l ©2003, Maine Medical Association