Federal Appeals Court Rejects LePage's Efforts to Eliminate Medicaid Coverage for Young Mainers

Last month, a federal appeals court rejected Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage's attempt to deny certain young adults Medicaid access. 

In its decision, The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that such a move would violate the Affordable Care Act, a "patient's bill of rights that gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed decisions about their health." 

Governor LePage, a critic of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, had previously proposed eliminating Medicaid coverage for 6,000 non-disabled 19-and-20-year-olds fin an effort to balance the budget. 

The LePage Administration, which wants to cut $220 million in overall healthcare spending, argued that cutting Medicaid rolls in the state would have saved Maine $3.7 million. 

LePage has been quoted as saying that he expects the state's fight with the federal government on this issue to eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

For more information on the Medicaid Program and Affordable Care Act, please visit: http://www.medicaid.gov/ and http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/ 

Graco Recalling 11 Stroller Models Due to Fingertip Amputation Risk

The Consumer Product Safey Commission has announced that 11 different models of Graco Strollers are being recalled due to the risk of fingertip amputation.  Included in the recall are strollers manufactured between August of 2000 and September of 2014.  To determine whether a stroller is subject to the recall, owners should check the model number and date of manufacture of their stroller. This information can be found on a white label located at the bottom of the stroller leg just above the rear wheel.

According to the CPSC's resport, "The folding hinge on the sides of the stroller can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard." The report also says that Graco has received 11 reports of stroller-related finger injuries, with six reports of fingertip amputation, four partial-fingertip amputations, and one finger laceration.

Graco is offering a free repair kit to owners of the affected strollers. The kits will be available in early December. In the meantime, extreme care should be used when unfolding the stroller and placing a child in the stroller seat.

Consumers should stop using this product unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Further information about this recall is available at 

Laundry Detergent Pods Dangerous for Children

A recent study conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that from 2012 through 2013, U.S. Poison Control centers received reports of 17,230 children younger than age 6 being exposed to chemicals in laundry detergents. This exposure was the result of swallowing or inhalation. As a result of ingesting these dangerous chemicals, 769 young children had to be hospitalized. 

In response to reports that many children still are being injured by ingesting pre-measured laundry detergent packets, the American Cleaning Institute has provided information about the safe handling and storage of these packets. The ACI recommends the following steps:

1. The packets should be stored out of reach and out of sight of children

2. The packets should be stored in their original containers or pouches until ready to be used

3. Children should not be allowed to handle the pre-measured laundry detergent packets

The detergent contained In the pods is highly concentrated, much more so than detergent in the more traditional bottled liquid detergent.  Children who ingest even small amounts of detergent in one of these pods can be seriously injured and require immediate medical treatment.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Celebrated in Maine

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mainers everywhere have been doing their part to raise awareness and contribute to fundraising efforts. 

Komen Maine, our state's Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate, raised more than $200,000 through their signature Race for the Cure events that were held in Portland and Bangor. The races drew more than 3,600 walkers, more than 220 volunteers and were sponsored by WCSH 6 and WLBZ 2.

For more information on the events, Komen Maine's mission and/or to make a donation to their research endeavors, please visit: www.komenmaine.org

Another signature fundraising effort in Maine, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, took place in four locations, including: Cape Elizabeth, Brunswick, Damariscotta and Kittery. Funds raised from these walks will help to support the American Cancer Society's efforts to help research, treat, cure breast cancer and also ensure access to regular mammograms. 

Diversified Ink, a tattoo shop in Bangor, selected 28 breast cancer survivors to receive complimentary pink ribbon tattoos to commemorate and honor the survivors' personal stories, experiences and battles. Candidates for the free body ink selected from 10 different artwork designs that will serve as a permanent reminder of their journeys. 

For more information on breast cancer education, awareness and fundraising events throughout Maine, please visit the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition's website: www.mainebreastcancer.org

Airbag Recall: NHTSA Releases Updated List of Affected Vehicles

The U.S. Government has expanded a recent massive airbag recall to now include nearly 8 million vehicles. As part of this product recall, auto safety agency officials are urging drivers to have their airbags repaired due to potential dangers to drivers and passengers. 

The aforementioned faulty airbags are at risk for rupturing due to faulty inflator mechanisms made by Japanese supplier Takata Corporation. This in turn can cause dangerous metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed.  

This highly dangerous malfunction has already contributed to four deaths in the United States, and safety officials have estimated that 20 million vehicles could eventually be affected by this problem. 

On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an updated warning list of cars and trucks included in this recall. These vehicles include: 

BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – Ranger
2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang

General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X

Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL

Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2007 Mazda6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck

Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza

Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia, 2003-2005 Toyota Tundra 

Maine Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Medical Marijuana

Under a recent change to the medical marijuana law in Maine, nurse practitioners are now permitted to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain medical conditions. Before this change in the law, only physicians were allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in Maine.

Physicians and nurse practitioners are permitted to recommend marijuana to patients who suffer from certain medical conditions approved by the State, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, and post-traumatic stress disorder. On August 6th, the Department of Health and Human Services held a public hearing on the issue of whether Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) should be added as a qualifying condition for the medical use of marijuana.

A patient who has been legally certified by their treating provider (physician or nurse practitioner) will be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medicinal purposes, or to obtain marijuana from a marijuana dispensary. Certification requires that a patient has had a continuous relationship with their medical provider for at least six months prior to the certification.

The law does not permit medical providers to assist a patient with obtaining, cultivating, or using the marijuana.

Advocates of medical marijuana believe that the new law will be of particular help to rural Mainers, many of whom treat with nurse practitioners, not physicians.

It is important to note that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, despite its legalization in many states. Because of this conflict in the laws, there may still be many medical providers who are reluctant to recommend marijuana to their patients.

Suicide Rates Higher for Smokers According to Study

A recent study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research raises the possibility that the link between smoking and suicide may be stronger than previously believed.

The researchers compared suicide rates in states with aggressive anti-smoking policies with the suicide rates in states where such policies do not exist. States with higher cigarette excise taxes and regulations regarding smoke-free air had lower suicide rates than states with fewer anti-smoking regulations.

The study's lead author, Richard Grucza, concludes a lower risk of suicide exists in states that have implemented strong anti-smoking policies.

Moose-Vehicle Collisions Trending Down in Maine

According to a recent article in the Portland Press Herald, though there have been several moose-vehicle collisions in Maine in the month of July, the actual number of these crashes has decreased over the past three years.

Statistics from the Maine Department of Transportation show that from 1995 through 2007, our state averaged 674 collisions annually. However, from 2008 to 2013, the annual average had declined to about 443.

Typically, moose-vehicle accidents are most common in May and June, as these are the months when animals roam for food after Winter.

According to the Maine DOT, 80 percent of these types of accidents occur between dusk and dawn.

Safety officers with the DOT believe that both public outreach/awareness and road signage have contributed to the recent decline in the number of these accidents. Last summer, the department installed reflector strips that reflect a moose's outline on roads in Caribou and Fort Kent, where these animals are most often struck by vehicles. 

For more information on moose-vehicle accident statistics in our state and measures that Maine safety officials are taking to reduce these, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/mdot/

United States Department of Agriculture Proposes New Rules to Improve Food Safety

The federal government is proposing changes in the rules governing the processing and sale of raw ground beef. The rule changes are designed to make it easier for the USDA to track the sources of contaminated meat, so that fewer people will be affected by food-borne illnesses.

Under the proposed new rule, retailers will be required to keep detailed records that identify the source and supplier of the raw ground beef they sell. This improved record-keeping will allow the USDA to process food recalls more quickly and efficiently. The USDA expects that the additional record keeping requirements imposed on retailers will reduce illnesses from E.Coli, and will lower the cost of ground beef recalls.

More information is available on the website of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/home 

High Rate of Opiate Pain Medication Prescriptions in Maine Causing Concern

The National Center for Disease Control has expressed concern about Maine's high rate of prescriptions for opiate pain medication.

According to recent data from the National Center for Disease Control, doctors in Maine prescribe opiate pain medications, including Oxycodone and OxyContin, at a much higher rate than doctors in other parts of the country. Because these medications include significant risk of overdose and addiction, the CDC recommends that further action  be considered as part of continuing effort to reduce these risks.

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse data from 2012 and 2013 shows an increase in the number of Mainers seeking treatment for addition to opiates including OxyContin and Oxycodone.

The mission of the Office of Substance Abuse is to 'provide leadership in substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. The OSA's website offers comprehensive information about substance abuse issues (including alcohol abuse), including information about prevention and treatment of substance abuse. More information can be found on the OSA's website, is www.maine.gov/dhhs/osa.

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