(5/8/15) HHS Work Sessions on 11 Medical Marijuana Bills (VIDEOS)

Posted on May 10, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Health and Human Services Cross Building, Room 209

9AM PUBLIC HEARING

    LD 1392, An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act
    Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea

10 AM WORK SESSIONS

    LD 5, An Act To Remove the Limit on the Number of Patients a Primary Caregiver May Provide for under the Medical Marijuana Laws
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 23, An Act To Remove from the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act the Requirement That a Patient’s Medical Condition Be Debilitating
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 35, An Act To Allow a Qualifying Patient To Use Medical Marijuana in a Hospital
    Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

    LD 266, An Act To Allow Access for Law Enforcement Officers to the List of Registered Primary Caregivers for Medical Marijuana Patients
    Rep. Blume of York

    LD 560, An Act Regarding Patient Information Under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act
    Rep. Russell of Portland

    LD 726, An Act To Increase Patient Safety in Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program
    Sen. Saviello of Franklin

    LD 752, An Act To Permit Medical Marijuana Cultivation by Incapacitated Adults
    Rep. Dunphy of Embden

    LD 766, An Act To Require a Medical Marijuana Primary Caregiver Cultivating in a Residential Building To Obtain an Electrical Permit
    Rep. Corey of Windham

    LD 1059, An Act Relating to Marijuana Testing Facilities
    Rep. Farnsworth of Portland

    LD 1258, An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act with Regard to Good Business Practices
    Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea

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4/29/15 HHS Work Session on 6 GA/ TANF Bills

Posted on May 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Work sessions were held by the Legislature’s HHS Committee on 4/29/15 regarding the following bills:

LD 368, An Act To Integrate the State’s General Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 369, An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 632, An Act To Require the State To Administer and Fund the General Assistance Program
Sen. Saviello of Franklin

LD 722, An Act To Strengthen Penalties for Abuse of General Assistance
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 1035,An Act To Create a 9-month Time Limit on General Assistance Benefits
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

LD 1037, An Act To Establish a 180-day Residency Requirement for Welfare Benefits
Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin

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(VIDEOS) AFA/ HHS Public Hearing LePage FY 2016/17 Biennial Budget, Day 2- General Assistance

Posted on March 8, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Here is a copy of DHHS Commissioner Mayhew’s testimony.

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Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DHHS Meets With AFA, HHS

Posted on February 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

DSC_0121Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew along with Alec Porteous and Stephanie Nadeau met with the 127th Legislature’s Appropriations and HHS Committees for three hours on January 22 to discuss the administration’s FY 2016/17 biennial budget as it pertains to the state’s largest agency (Governor Paul LePage’s 2016-2017 Biennial General Fund Budget Proposal can be found here). The entire meeting is below, recorded in five clips.

From a DHHS press release:

    “For years, DHHS has come to the budget committee with news of massive shortfalls that send lawmakers scrambling,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “This time, it’s different. Under Governor LePage’s leadership, we have stabilized spending in the Medicaid program and are no longer managing to a crisis. Instead, the budget proposal tackles some of the Governor’s biggest priorities: nursing home funding, waitlists, primary care, and much more.”

    The DHHS budget proposal identifies significant savings to help fund important new initiatives, with a net request of just over $6 million for the FY 2016-2017 biennium-this out of a total Department General Fund budget of more than $2 billion.

    DSC_0123Among those initiatives are $24 million in additional Medicaid reimbursement funding for nursing homes; $46 million to move elderly, disabled, and mentally ill patients off of waitlists for services; $28 million to improve access to primary care providers; and $14 million to fulfill Maine’s obligation to mental health under the Consent Decree.

    Roughly $11 million in savings from a proposed reform to General Assistance reimbursement to municipalities will be directed specifically to fund services under Section 21 for disabled Mainers on waitlists.

    A total of $20 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) will be repurposed away from third-party advocacy organizations and directed to fund increased access to primary care providers for Medicaid recipients.

    After doubling in size, enrollment, and cost in the decade prior to Governor LePage’s first inauguration, Maine’s Medicaid program has since seen enrollment drop from a high of 354,000 in 2011 to 291,000 today. In 2011, 26 percent of Mainers were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 18 percent of the national population. In 2014, Maine’s Medicaid enrollment matched the national average of 22 percent. “After years spent bailing out the sinking ship of Medicaid, we have finally charted a new course where spending on able-bodied adults is controlled and services for the elderly and disabled are prioritized,” added Commissioner Mayhew. “I am proud to be presenting this balanced budget to the Appropriations Committee on behalf of Governor LePage, whose tenacity and responsible priorities have gotten us where we are today.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

After the conclusion of the meeting, Daniel E. Wathen, Consent Decree Coordinator, met with the two committees to discuss multiple ongoing issues at Riverview Psychiatric Center and answer questions from legislators. The two clips of that meeting are below.

Part 1

Part 2

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AFA, HHS Joint Committee Meet w/ DHHS Officials to Discuss CTS, Riverview Psychiatric Center Woes

Posted on August 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

HHS Committee member Rep. Henry Bear (Maliseet) speaks with HHS Senate Chair and new AFA committee member Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) before meeting begins. Also pictured is AFA Senate Chair Dawn Hill (D-York)

Joint meeting by the Appropriations & Financial Affairs, Health & Human Services standing legislative committees held to discuss a number of topics with officials from DHHS and Riverview Psychiatric Center including CTS (transportation), safety concerns, training issues, re-certification efforts and more.

The committees submitted two pages of detailed questions to Commissioner Mayhew, who responded with a 27 page document and sent Stephanie Nadeau, Ricker Hamilton and Riverview superintendent Jay Harper in her stead.

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 1)
http://youtu.be/EJLhEDmND0M

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 2)
http://youtu.be/jLbETF0ueVg

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 3)
http://youtu.be/EZr0wWC6Xko

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 4)
http://youtu.be/uvSq6_H08UU

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 5)
http://youtu.be/VKeiXLa_R1k

Maine Legislative AFA, HHS Joint Cmte Meeting 8 19 14 (Pt 6)
http://youtu.be/AOP8eDHN09I

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More BREAKING: Feds Warn LePage Admin Stop EBT Photo ID Rollout, Else Risk Lawsuits, Loss of $$$

Posted on April 25, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Whoopsie. Via Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office:

Feds warn state to stop rollout of EBT photo identification until further review
USDA says not doing so brings threats of lawsuits and loss of funding

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today voiced her agreement with concerns raised in a letter the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sent to the state regarding plans to require ID photos on EBT cards.

chellie

    “The USDA’s letter is another message that adding this burden on families and retailers is not the right direction for the state. It doesn’t do anything to prevent fraud, but it does make it harder for people to access the benefits they need to feed their families,” said Pingree. “The USDA clearly said that the state opens itself to a number of risks if it goes forward with this plan, including possible litigation and loss of federal funding. I hope the state takes this as an opportunity to reconsider its plans.”

The letter states that the state has not given USDA enough time to determine whether the state’s implementation plan adequately addresses the agency’s concerns, including whether safeguards are adequate to protect beneficiaries’ rights and how effectively retailers have been notified of changes.

    “Therefore, Maine should delay any implementation until FNS can fully review and approve the State’s plan,” USDA said in its letter. “Given the risk of losing Federal financial participation, as well as the risk for litigation against the State should the State’s implementation of the photo EBT card violate provisions of the Food and Nutrition Act or SNAP regulations, Maine should not rush into implementation.”

Earlier today, Pingree spoke with USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon to voice her concerns about the state’s plans and to ask the agency to give them a thorough review.

Here is the letter:

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Emergency Hearing on Riverview Psychiatric Center Held; Dems Voice Concerns

Posted on October 15, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew talks with Rep Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) prior to emergency meeting with AFA and HHS committees.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew talks with Rep Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) prior to emergency meeting with AFA and HHS committees.

Last Wednesday, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew met with a joint session of the members of the 125th Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) Committees to discuss what lead to the federal government’s $20 million defunding of Maine’s Riverview Psychiatric Center. According to the feds, the decision to pull funding was based upon the center’s failure to comply with safety standards. The LePage administration received notification on October 2nd (letter dated September 27) of the decision by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in a 17 page document which detailed concerns going back to March of this year.

In late August, legislators passed emergency measure LD 1515, “An Act To Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services” designed to correct the safety and understaffing issued raised by CMS. In early September, the administration repeatedly assured lawmakers that this measure to expand the Maine State Prison’s mental health unitwould address the federal government’s concerns by reducing the patient load at Riverview. But that was not the case, as CMS terminated its $20 million funding to the psychiatric hospital following an unannounced site visit to the facility in mid-September. It cited ongoing operational, governance, and management deficiencies leading to safety concerns and human rights violations.

Here are links to some of the discussions between DHHS Commissioner Mayhew, legal counsel Ken Albert, and various members of the joint committees in their 3 1/2 hour long meeting.

Pt 1

Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5.

Afterwards, some lawmakers continued to voice concerns:

“Today’s meeting was about fulfilling the Legislature’s responsibility to work together with the Department in solving critical problems at Riverview. We expected to hear answers about how Riverview got here, why the Legislature was not kept in the loop, and what we must do going forward,” said Senator Dawn Hill of York, the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

House Chair Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston expressed frustration with the lack of answers provided: “Today was a beginning but we still don’t have clear answers from the administration about how they’re going to fix this problem and how we’re going to pay for patient care in the interim.”

She continued: “Since March, I believe, the administration has known that funding for Riverview could be in jeopardy, but the Legislature was not informed until August,” Rotundo said. She said lawmakers were then told the bill to expand mental health services at the prison would correct those problems.

“And that we would be kept in the loop in terms of what was happening at Riverview,” Rotundo said. “But since then the Legislature was not informed that CMS had been to Riverview to do the survey.”

Representative Mike Carey of Lewiston: “This comes down to staffing and money. This is what it will take to ensure the safety of the workers and to help the patients who go to Riverview to get better. But if we are going to get this done, we need direct answers and more timely information from the administration.”

AFA Committee member Senator Emily Cain of Orono: “We are all pulling for the same positive outcome. We have a responsibility for, and care deeply about the patients and staff and Riverview, and the budget implications of this crisis. And it is in the spirit of resolution that we are here today seeking answers that are long overdue.”

Mayhew responded to all: “It is unfortunate that we must continue to spend additional financial and staff resources to appeal the decision and reapply for certification. I remain confident, however, that Riverview Psychiatric Center will be recertified by CMS and will receive necessary funding for critical psychiatric services for the people of the state of Maine.”

It is still unclear what the next steps beyond the state applying for recertification will be, if there will be more discussion within the Legislature at this point and how the ongoing federal government shutdown will affect this situation and the funding woes at Riverview.

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