POLITICAL PULSE: Work Session on Medical Marijuana Tomorrow
HHS COMMITTEE HELD HEARING LAST WEEK, SCHEDULED WORK SESSION FOR TOMORROW ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Following last week's public hearing, the Legislature's Committee on Health & Human Services will hold a work session tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16th on L.D. 1811, An Act to Amend the Maine Medical Marijuana Act. The work session will begin at 1:00 p.m. in room 209 of the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.
At the public hearing, MMA Executive Vice President Gordon Smith testified in favor of the bill which was crafted by a 14 member committee appointed by the Governor charged with clarifying provisions in the publicly initiated law approved by the citizens of Maine last November. Mr. Smith was a member of the committee.
While supporting the bill, MMA also presented proposed amendments to it. The amendments, if enacted, would accomplish the following:
1. Would prohibit children 12 years of age and under from becoming qualifying patients under the law.
2. Would establish a review process for a qualifying patient ages 13 through 17 inclusive.
3. Would add the medical specialties of pediatrics and addictionology to the advisory board established in the legislation.
4. Would provide the advisory board with the authority to recommend the deletion of any medical condition from the list that current medical and scientific literature no longer supports as benefiting from the medical use of marijuana.
In addition to speaking on behalf of MMA, Mr. Smith provided comments on behalf of the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians and the Maine Gastroenterology Society.
MMA's testimony and the language of the proposed amendment to L.D 1811 are available on the MMA website at www.mainemed.com.
GOVERNOR RELEASES ANOTHER BUDGET CHANGE PACKAGE WITH PROPOSED RESTORATIONS BASED ON FMAP ENHANCEMENT
The Governor's Commissioner of Administration & Finance, Ryan Low, briefed both the Appropriations and HHS Committees on the Governor's proposed restorations to the supplemental budget (L.D. 1671) based upon the 6-month enhanced Medicaid match extension in the "jobs" bill (see related article above). Assuming passage of the jobs bill in the House, considered likely, the State of Maine will receive $81 million in additional federal Medicaid revenue rather than the $35 million the Governor included as a placeholder in the original FY 2010-2011 supplemental budget. The Governor's proposal restores approximately $58 million in cuts, most of it in the health and social services area and in aid to local government. Some of the highlights include:
- $17.9 million to eliminate a provider pay cycle delay;
- $1.5 million to reduce the critical access hospital (CAH) cut from 109% of costs to 107% of costs rather than to 101% of costs as originally proposed (for a 10% cut in the biennium);
- $5.6 million in circuit breaker restoration;
- $5 million in restoration of municipal revenue sharing in FY 2011; and
- $5 million in restoration of general purpose aid to local education in FY 2011.
The Appropriations Committee worked yesterday afternoon, mostly in closed door caucuses, and work sessions will continue this week. The MMA continues to work with other members of Health Policy Partners to advocate for a dollar increase in the cigarette tax to reduce smoking and to further offset the cuts in health and human services.
SENATE SEEKS COMPROMISE ON L.D. 1672, REGARDING THE SWITCHING OF ANTI-EPILEPTIC DRUGS
Following a Senate Democratic caucus on the bill last Tuesday, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Lisa Marrache, M.D. and the bill's sponsor, Senator Peter Bowman, sought a compromise that could achieve the support of the entire Senate. Their approach would be to ask the Maine Board of Pharmacy to consider the issues and develop recommendations. Following negotiation among the interested parties, the following proposed floor amendment appears to be able to win the support of the Senate and presumably the House as well.
New Title: Resolve, Regarding the Dispensing of Anti-epileptic Drugs
RESOLVE : The Maine Board of Pharmacy, the Governor's Office of Health
Care Policy and Finance, the Board of Licensure in Medicine and the
Department of Health and Human Services, Office of MaineCare Services
shall each designate one or more officials or members to conduct a study
for the purpose of examining substitution within the anti-epileptic
class of medications, current state laws governing substitutions
generally, the powers available to prescribers under current
substitution laws and whether there is a need to grant any additional
powers to Maine prescribers for any one class of drugs. This analysis
shall take into account the findings and opinions on this topic by the
Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association and any
statistically valid peer reviewed research in this area. The study group
shall publish its findings in a report to the legislature to be
delivered no later than January 15, 2011.
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