Maine Medicine Weekly Update - March 26, 2021  (Plain Text Version)

Return to Graphical Version


In this issue:
•  Committee Holds Vote on Nursing Practice Bill
•  Maine’s Vaccination Supply Increases; Community Practices Wait; CDC Announces ‘Pop-Up Clinics’
•  COVID-19: Federal Updates and News
•  COVID-19: State Data, Updates, & News
•  Maine Attorney General Releases Drug Overdose Data for February 2021
•  California Physicians Produce Pro-COVID Vaccine ‘My Shot’ Video Based on “Hamilton”
•  CNN, Sunday, 3/28, 9pm: "Autopsy of a Pandemic: 6 Doctors at the Center of the US Covid-19 Response"
•  U.S. Senate Votes to Delay Medicare Payment Cuts for Remainder of Year
•  AMA: This Week’s Top Articles from JAMA Network
•  Maine Legislative Calendar In Flux
•  Next MMA Legislative Call Will Be Wednesday, March 31st
•  New Maine AAP Educational Webinar Series
•  PPE Available Through the MMA & ActionPPE
•  A Message from Maine Responds: Volunteer Opportunity
•  Maine Legislature Week 11 Update
•  Upcoming Specialty Society Meetings
•  Maine Lung Cancer Coalition Webinar March 24, 2021
•  Maine CDC Physicians To Host Regular Clinician COVID Vaccine Info Sessions
•  Suicide Prevention and Management in Healthcare Practice Settings: A Comprehensive Evidence-Based Approach
•  AAP EQIPP Course: Immunizations - Strategies for Success (for RURAL Health Providers)
•  Nurse Practitioner
•  Medical Director - ME License Required
•  Practice Administrator
•  Physician
•  Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
•  Belgrade Regional Health Center Seeks a Physician (BC/BE in Family Medicine)


Maine Legislature Week 11 Update

The following is a summary of happenings during week 11 of the Maine Legislature.


Week 11 (3/22 - 3/26)

Veterans and Legal Affairs

LD 693 An Act to Make the Pilot Program Providing Mental Health Case Management Services to Veterans a Permanent Program had its public hearing on Monday. This bill seeks to make permanent the pilot program from 2018 that worked to assist veterans with health care services. The program is currently funded by the DHHS, which continued the program after state funding was cut. The pilot program had great success in providing needed mental health services to all veterans and cutting costs by preventing emergency room visits. The bill was met with large support and was voted OTP-AM on Wednesday, keeping the requirement that hospitals collect data on individuals who have served in the military or are seeking behavioral support through the emergency room.

Education and Cultural Affairs

On Monday, the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a public hearing on LD 639. The bill requires school counselors to have six credit hours of training in the area of recognizing and reacting to domestic violence. The bill had some support, while counselors tended to oppose the mandate of extra training in an area that they are well-versed in.

Health and Human Services

Busy day on Tuesday for the Health and Human Services Committee with two public hearings and four work sessions of interest to MMA. The first, LD 629, Resolve, To Establish the Task Force To Study Improving Safety and Provide Protection from Violence for Health Care Workers in Hospitals and Mental Health Care Providers, would create a task force that enables healthcare workers to safely report violence and investigate. The bill’s sponsor Representative Riseman, suggested an amendment at some point to ensure the task force is inclusive. It was meet with all support, each noting how healthcare workers often do not report and this bill may enable support for reporting.

LD 716, An Act To Enhance and Improve the Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board and To Establish the Aging and Disability Mortality Review Pane, is in response to an independent report that found 133 deaths and critical incidents (rape, suicide, neglect, etc) that the DHHS failed to investigate. This bill would establish a review panel to investigate the deaths of individuals in living facilities. It would consist of up to 15 members with expertise regarding people with disabilities and our aging population. This bill was presented in the 129th Legislature but was cut from the budget, this year it is in the Governors’ Biennial budget, and with the support of those testifying they hope for it to be incorporated into law this session.

Works session for LD 529, An Act To Restore the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Cystic Fibrosis Assistance Program, was voted unanimously ought-to-pass as amended; amendment changes bill to a resolve. 

LD 577, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 6: Crisis Prevention and Intervention Services, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Aging and Disability Services, requires the DHHS to remain sufficient capacity to offer state-wide in-home and out-of-home crisis prevention and intervention services for adults with intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injury and autism spectrum disorder. It was voted unanimously ought-to-pass. 

LD 578, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 113: Regulations Governing the Licensing and Functioning of Assisted Housing Programs: Infection Prevention and Control, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Licensing and Certification, would require assisted housing programs to establish, implement, and maintain a prevention and control plan for infectious disease prevention. The training can come from various online resources. The important piece of this bill is that a risk assessment is done in the facility and a plan is made to address this risk. The DHHS will check this risk assessment and training plan during their surveys every 2 years. The bill was voted ought-to-pass.

LD 624,  An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Tobacco Specialty Stores, left in a divided report. Eight members voted ought-not-to-pass and five members created a minority report for ought-to-pass as amended (permitting only water)

On Thursday, the public hearing for LD 512, An Act To Provide Intensive Case Managers to Counties That Do Not Have County Jails or Regional Jails, received all support. Testimonies echoed the need for services provided by ICMs in reincorporating formed prisoners into the community and reducing recidivism.

LD 595, Resolve, To Ensure That Access to Oral and Facial Ambulatory Surgical Centers in Maine Remains Viable, also received only support at its public hearing. This resolve would increase the rate oral and facial ambulatory services can bill, which would allow the only ambulatory surgical center in Maine to continue operation. The current rate is $178.86, compared to the private insurance and VA’s rate of $810.

Public Hearing for LD 674 An Act to Support Early Intervention and Treatment of Psychotic Disorders, showed promise for expanding access to coordinated care. This bill would assist the PIER program funding; the program has helped many individuals with an early intervention using a coordinated approach. Many testified in support of this bill on Thursday.

LD 590, An Act To Require MaineCare Coverage for Ostomy Equipment, was voted ought-to-pass as amended, with the change that the rate be 85% of 2021 Medicare Rates.

IDEA & Business

LD 149, An Act to Facilitate Licensure for Credentialed Individuals from Other Jurisdictions, was met with broad support in its public hearing on Tuesday. Anne Head, Commissioner of the Office of Professional and Financial Regulation, worked with stakeholders to support this bill, which reduces barriers for individuals from out of state to begin working, especially if driven from their homes due to war or emergencies.

Environment and Natural Resources

LD 226, An Act To Limit the Use of Hydrofluorocarbons To Fight Climate Change, was tabled on Wednesday because of the concern that what would be required to reduce hydrofluorocarbons is a manufacturing requirement rather than a chemical problem. This is because the equipment used in supermarkets and elsewhere leaks and this is where hydrofluorocarbons enter into the environment. The committee spent a great deal of time on this bill and decided to have another work session to give time to process and work through the entirety of the bill.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Public Hearings for LD 476 and LD 491 were held on Wednesday. LD 476 An Act To Provide Licensed Assisted Living and Nursing Facilities Levels of Care for Incarcerated Persons, seeks to license assisted living facilities and nursing facilities to care for incarcerated persons. The bill was brought forth because of the growing aging population in prisons and their extensive healthcare needs. It is also in response to end-of-life care, which was the topic of discussion for those who testified. Colby College students testified on behalf of inmates who were volunteer hospice workers. These inmates spoke of how these dying inmates are often left to die alone as visitors often do not wish to come into a prison and sometimes visitation is not permitted. Others who testified noted how prison facilities do not have the staff or the training for providing the care needed to these inmates. 14 gave oral testimony in support, Commission of the Maine Department of Corrections testified neither for nor against, noting that the DOC already provides these services.

LD 491, An Act To Create the Crime of Hate Crime False Public Alarm or Report, was brought forth in response to the false reporting in NYC. The bill would make false reporting a class C crime. Five testified in support, some of which were personal accounts of being falsely identified or reported. The three in opposition were concerned with the length of the bill. Concerns such as the bill are not enough to solve the root cause, the crime should be lowered to Class D and be set to the discretion of the judge, and whether this legislation would blur the lines between hate crime and false reporting.


LD 642 had a public hearing on Wednesday in the Judiciary Committee. The Act to Ensure that Children Receive Behavioral Health Services was met with some procedural issue and will be revisited. The sponsor, Rep. Gramlich, bought forth an amendment that was drastically different from the original bill. This bill is likely to have another public hearing once the amendment is published.

On Thursday, the Committee held work sessions on LD 366 and LD 480, both having to do with guardianship. LD 366 passed by a narrow margin out of committee; if signed into law, it would allow emergency guardianships to assist patients moving from hospital care into more long-term care situations once medical treatment is finished. LD 480 passed; if it becomes law, it alters the probate code so that there would be a presumption that an attorney is appointed to one needing guardianship, rather than have to convince the court why a guardian should be appointed.

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

LD 519, An Act To Protect Children from Exposure to Toxic Chemicals, held its public hearing on Thursday. Many individuals from landscaping and farming backgrounds gave testimony in opposition. There was confusion on whether the common herbicide glyphosate was harmful. There was also concern that without the use of herbicides some noxious plants such as poison ivy would go untreated and pose a further health concern to children. Other concerns regarded the 75ft ban of herbicides from school bounds. Farmers echoed this may impact local agriculture. Victoria Wallack from the Maine School Management and Maine School Board testified that these chemicals are used infrequently but play an important role in the management of sports fields and regulating/enforcing this legislation on all school grounds may prove difficult. The committee questioned the testifiers for their associations with pesticide/ insecticide corporations like Bayer, which Robert Mann had of the National Association of Landscape Professionals had received support from for a convention. The bill provided highly contentious despite passing in committee in the 129th legislature but failing to be made into law due to the pandemic.

Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Affairs

The HCIFS Committee had a busy week of work sessions. 

On Tuesday, LD 631, An Act to Provide Funding for Maine's Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program, was widely supported but only made it out of committee in a divided report, with Democrats wanting the funding to come from the Bureau of Insurance and Republicans wanting the funding to come from the General Fund. 

LD 653, An Act to Provide Maine Residents Losing Employer-based Health Coverage with Information About Other Coverage,  was voted Ought to Pass unanimously by those present. 

Senator Stewart, sponsor of LD 713, An Act to Allow the Purchase of Health Insurance Across State Lines, withdrew the bill and it was voted ONTP.

LD 441, n Act to Expand Adult Dental Health Insurance Coverage, and 665, An Act to Promote Better Dental Care for Cancer Survivors, were both tabled, as they are likely to require studies. The Committee will take these up closer to the end of the session to decide whether to move forward or not.

LD 599, a bill requiring coverage for certain ultrasound exams, was deemed to be redundant and unnecessary and was a unanimous Ought Not to Pass.  

LD 600, sponsored by Senator Brenner and supported by MMA member Dr. Evans, was a unanimous Ought to Pass vote. The bill would require insurance coverage by carriers to cover certified midwife services.