Health and health care news

The Northeast U.S. bucked a national trend between 2003 and 2013 with a decline in melanoma cases and deaths.

But in Maine, both the incidence of the disease and the death rate from it, rose during that ten years.

The research published in “JAMA Dermatology” attributes much of the drop in the Northeast as a whole to programs that raise awareness of skin cancer and how to prevent it.

But Meghan Rothschild of the Melanoma Foundation of New England says there’s a flip side to that, in that many people aren’t aware of the disease and how to watch for it.

NH Tissue, Organ Research Institute to Benefit Injured Soldiers

Dec 22, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. - The Department of Defense is providing $80 million to establish a bio-research and manufacturing institute in Manchester, New Hampshire, to develop tissues and organs for injured American soldiers and other patients.

The five-year award was announced Wednesday by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. All three were strong supporters of locating the institute in Manchester and had urged the Defense Department to support the project.

More than 56,000 Mainers have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace insurance plans for next year, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s about 5,000 more enrollments in Maine compared to the same time last year.

Still, Emily Brostek of Consumers for Affordable Health Care says she’s concerned some people aren’t enrolling due to rising premiums.

PORTLAND, Maine — An Augusta advocacy group says its signature drive to get Medicaid expansion on Maine’s ballot has been "hugely successful."

The Portland Press Herald reports the organization, Maine Equal Justice Partners, expects to make an announcement on Thursday.

Expanding Medicaid would insure an estimated 80,000 people.

The group says many of the signatures needed to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot were collected on Election Day. Volunteers collected more this week.

Eastern Maine Medical Center is joining the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative.

Dr. Merrill Garrett, medical director of EMMC’s Cancer Care, says the collaboration build on a decades-long relationship with Dana-Farber and will help bring the latest practices in cancer treatment to the Bangor area.

“That is going to bring more of the Dana-Farber investigator-initiated trials to our center. These are trials that we’ve been sending patients down for consideration, and many of whom were not able to do it because they couldn’t travel that far,” she says.

A dozen hospitals and health organizations in the state could unify as one nonprofit under a proposal being considered by MaineHealth.

Citing a need to preserve “the public peace, health and safety,” the Bangor City Council voted Monday night to repeal the local ordinance that was crafted to regulate the expansion of methadone facilities in the city.

The action effectively clears the way for Penobscot County Metro Center to increase its caseload from 300 to 500 patients. The council’s decision followed last month’s ruling by a federal judge that the city’s ordinance was discriminatory.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Say you want to pick up a ripe apple or a head of fresh lettuce. Typically, that means a trip to the grocery store, or maybe a farmer’s market. But in some Maine towns, there’s another place to find produce now: convenience stores.

Macroscopic Solutions / Flickr/Creative Commons

After a seeming respite from Lyme disease earlier this year, the number of cases in Maine has surged.

There have been more than 1,300 cases of Lyme disease reported in the state so far, compared with 1,200 this time last year. Dr. Siiri Bennett, an epidemiologist at the Maine Centers for Disease Control, says outbreaks of the sometimes debilitating disease in Maine follow closely the geography of deer tick prevalence.

She says people need to be alert to tick bites even in the cold months.

Mainers worried that President-elect Donald Trump will follow through on his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act are urging members of Congress to improve the law rather than dismantle it.

At a press conference in Portland Thursday, those who have benefited from the ACA said dropping the law would create a health care crisis.

LEWISTON, Maine - At a press conference in Portland today, consumers expressed alarm about losing health coverage if President-Elect Donald Trump follows through on his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Katie McDonald is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine who currently has a marketplace plan.  As she prepares to graduate in three semesters, she says she faces many uncertainties.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

In just a few weeks, new limits on opioid prescribing will take effect in Maine.

Prescription pain medication continues to play a role in overdose deaths across the country, and a state law is designed to reduce abuse by curbing doses. But some lawmakers say the new restrictions in Maine will actually cause more harm to some patients, and they plan to introduce legislation to soften the law that was recently passed.

Noreen Alton-Jones of Standish knows the power of opioids.

“They make the pain go away, which is a good thing,” she says.

The City of Bangor announced late Friday that it has settled a lawsuit brought by Metro Treatment of Maine, a Bangor methadone clinic that wants to expand.

In August, the city denied the expansion plans, saying that the methadone clinic failed to demonstrate a need for the expansion as required by a local ordinance dealing with methadone treatment. Metro Treatment filed suit, alleging that the ordinance was discriminatory.

The University of New England and Apothecary by Design have teamed up to offer a residency program in specialty pharmacy.

UNE pharmacy professor Dr. Kenneth McCall says the residency will give pharmacists hands-on training on how to care for patients with conditions such as organ transplantation, hepatitis C and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fewer American families are struggling to pay their medical bills, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Though the number has been in steady decline for the past five years, health advocates in Maine say there are still too many who can’t afford health care. And the problem of paying medical bills may affect more families in Maine than those in other states.