Patty Wight

News Producer

Patty is a graduate of the University of Vermont and a multiple award-winning reporter for Maine Public Radio. Her specialty is health coverage: from policy stories to patient stories, physical health to mental health and anything in between. Patty joined Maine Public Radio in 2012 after producing stories as a freelancer for NPR programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She got hooked on radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and hasn’t looked back ever since.

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Fifty of Maine's most vulnerable residents who are addicted to opioids would get access to treatment under a bill that the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee is considering Wednesday.

Dr. Renee Fay-Leblanc, chief medical officer of Greater Portland Health, says the bill establishes a pilot project that would also provide stable housing.

"This bill will allow patients to get to a place where they can be successful in traditional substance use programs, and it will save lives," Fay-Leblanc says.

St. Joseph’s College and a company backed by Cate Street Capital have ended a $750,000 agreement to build a greenhouse as part of the college’s new Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation.

Cate Street Capital was behind the failed bid to revive the Great Northern Paper Mill in East Millinocket in 2014, despite receiving millions in taxpayer dollars.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Maine’s Congressional Delegation is criticizing vulgar remarks President Donald Trump made during an Oval Office meeting on Thursday during a discussion of immigration policy, reportedly using an expletive to describe Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it’s committed to supporting states that want to require Medicaid recipients to work.

Maine is one of 10 states that’s seeking federal permission to do that. Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans say the policy would help lift people out of poverty. But advocates for Medicaid recipients say implementing a work requirement would not only harm the people Medicaid is intended to help, it would also be illegal.

State police discovered the bodies of husband and wife Thomas and Michelle Masse in the town of Temple this afternoon.

Police responded to the home after Thomas Masse, 60, called 911 and threatened to shoot himself. State police spokesman Steve McCausland says crisis negotiators attempted to communicate for 2-3 hours, but were unsuccessful.

Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press File

CVS has purchased Portland-based specialty pharmacy Apothecary by Design. The sale price has not been disclosed, but a spokeswoman for CVS says the company expects to retain both Apothecary by Design’s name and its 38 employees.

CVS made the purchase on Sunday from private equity firm BelHealth, which bought a majority stake in Apothecary by Design about two years ago. BelHealth will continue to own Apothecary by Design's compounding pharmacy and fertility business.

This week, the Trump administration released proposed rules that would make it easier for small businesses and the self-employed to band together to buy association health plans.

Supporters say the plans will provide more affordable coverage. But critics say any savings these plans might offer would come at a cost: namely, skimpy coverage and a weaker individual market.

The proposed new rules are aimed at association health plans — plans in which small businesses in the same industry group together to buy insurance coverage and get cheaper rates.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

In addition to snow and wind, Thursday’s blizzard brought historic flooding to the southern Maine coast, from Portland all the way into New Hampshire.

The Maine Board of Dental Practice last week decided against taking disciplinary action against a Lewiston dentist who faced dozens of complaints from patients. At the State House on Wednesday, lawmakers questioned the board’s executive director about the case.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press File

Flu season is underway in Maine, and state epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says the dominant strain this year — influenza A — is particularly virulent.

“We’re seeing a lot more influenza hospitalizations this year than we did last year at this time. So, that’s a bit of concern,” she says. "Over 80 percent are influenza A, and that's going on throughout the U.S. It's not just Maine."

Through Dec. 23, 99 people were hospitalized with the flu. At the same time last year, 12 people were hospitalized.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The Maine Board of Dental Practice has found in favor of a Lewiston dentist accused of putting the health and safety of his patients in immediate jeopardy.

Dr. Jan Kippax had his license temporarily suspended about a year ago after 18 patients filed nearly 200 complaints against him. But on Friday, the same board that suspended Kippax decided not to take further action.

Four Maine hospitals are being penalized by Medicare for their rates of infection and patient injury. Central Maine Medical Center, Southern Maine Health Care, York Hospital and Cary Medical Center all face a reduction in Medicare reimbursements for one year. It’s the third year in a row that Central Maine Medical Center is being docked.

More than 76,000 Mainers have signed up for insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s 2018 marketplace, compared to about 79,000 who signed up last year.

Steve Butterfield of Consumers for Affordable Health Care says those are strong numbers, given the enrollment period was cut in half this year.

“For a lot of people, the ACA is a great deal, with the subsidies and the tax credits that they get to purchase coverage,” he says. “It does make it affordable.”

The deadline to enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace is Friday, Dec. 15.

The Trump administration cut the sign-up period in half this year, and some consumers are feeling a time crunch — particularly those who want to buy catastrophic coverage, which requires a special exemption from the federal government that can take weeks to process. Some are still waiting as the enrollment period closes.

Maine’s national health ranking is slipping, according to a new report.

America’s Health Rankings now places Maine at No. 23, falling from an all-time best of 8 back in 2010. The report, which is based on Centers for Disease Control data, cites a number of factors, from drug deaths to diabetes and infant mortality.