Maine Medicine Weekly Update - 11/08/2018 (Plain Text Version)
MMA Expects 5 Physicians to be Members of the 129th Maine Legislature
The Maine Medical Association recognizes the hard work of campaigning for elective office of 8 physician candidates for the 129th Maine Legislature and congratulates the 5 physicians who are apparent winners of their races. The 8 candidates include 3 incumbents (Geoffrey Gratwick, M.D., Heidi Brooks, M.D., and Patricia Hymanson, M.D.) and 5 challengers (former House member Linda Sanborn, M.D., Ned Claxton, M.D., MMA Past President Richard Evans, M.D., Ted Sussman, M.D., and Pat Nobel, M.D.). To the best of our knowledge, this will be the highest number of physician legislators in Maine in 100 years and the high level of physician engagement in politics and public policy in Maine is inspiring!
The MMA staff has been following the election returns since the polls closed on Tuesday night and has been analyzing the results. While some legislative races may be close enough that a candidate may request a recount, the picture is becoming more clear. This communication will focus on the key state results.
Janet Mills has been declared the winner of the gubernatorial race and is beginning the formation of her administration. She already has been visible in her continuing support of ACA Medicaid expansion and its implementation in Maine. The MMA anticipates an excellent working relationship with Maine's first female governor based upon our work together on the opioid drug crisis when she was Attorney General and a member of the Maine House.
Our comments on the races for the 129th Maine Legislature are based on lists of apparent winners prepared by various news organizations and the Maine House Clerk's Office. At this time, it appears that Democrats will control both chambers of the new legislature with the Senate composed of 21 Democrats and 14 Republicans. Senator Geoffrey Gratwick, M.D. will return for his fourth and final term in the Maine Senate by successfully defending his Senate District 9 seat in the Bangor area. Senator Gratwick will be joined by two physician colleagues, both of whom defeated by narrow margins sitting legislators who held leadership positions in their caucuses. Former Maine House member Linda Sanborn, M.D. is the apparent winner in Senate District 30 in Cumberland County, including Scarborough and Linda's home town of Gorham. Ned Claxton, M.D. is the apparent winner in Senate District 20 in Androscoggin County, including Auburn and communities to the west. The three physician members will be part of the majority Democratic caucus.
It also appears that Democrats will control the Maine House in the 129th Legislature with its 151 members comprised of 89 Democrats, 56 Republicans, 3 Independents, 1 Common Sense Independent, and 1 Unenrolled member. You can find a list of the apparent House winners on the House Clerk's web site here. The two incumbent physician members of the Maine House were re-elected. Representative Patricia Hymanson, M.D. is the apparent winner in House District 4 in southern York County and Heidi Brooks, M.D. is the apparent winner in House District 61 in Lewiston.
The MMA congratulates these 5 successful candidates and we look forward to working with them in the next two years.
We also acknowledge the efforts of Richard Evans, M.D. (House District 120, Dover-Foxcroft area), Pat Nobel, M.D. (House District 142, Lincoln), and Ted Sussman, M.D. (House District 144, Houlton) who ran strong campaigns, but were not successful in very challenging districts.
Based upon the themes we all heard during the recent campaigns and the Maine election results, we expect the 2019-2020 time frame of the 129th Maine Legislature to be very busy in health policy.
We also note the defeat of Referendum Question 1, proposing a tax surcharge to fund a universal home care program by a margin of 63% to 37%. The MMA Board of Directors had voted to oppose Question 1 because of the potential negative impact on physician recruitment and retention in Maine.
We understand that the new legislature will be sworn in and have their orientation during the first week of December. It is likely that they will formally elect their leadership at that time as well as the constitutional officers (Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Auditor). The legislative leadership should make committee assignments by the holidays. The cloture deadline for the submission of bills is currently set for Friday, December 21st, but the new leadership may change that date to some time after the holidays. The new legislature will return to Augusta to begin the work of its First Regular Session on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
REMINDER: The MMA Legislative Committee, co-chaired by Jay Mullen, M.D., M.B.A. and Lindsey Tweed, M.D., M.P.H., will hold its organizational meeting for the next legislature on Thursday, December 6th and any interested physician is welcome to attend or participate by phone. See next Monday's Maine Medicine Weekly Update for more information.