Health and health care news

Patty Wight / MPBN

We’ve all heard the flossing lecture. Once a day, we’re supposed to slide a waxy string between our teeth to remove food and bacteria. It’s a practice that dentists and the federal government have recommended for decades.

The state’s largest insurer of individual health plans is suing the federal government for over $20 million in owed payments.

The lawsuit, by Maine Community Health Options, or MCHO, marks the latest development in the ongoing struggle of Obamacare health co-ops, many of which have already shuttered because of financial woes.

It has been a rough year for MCHO. The nonprofit was one of nearly two dozen health care co-ops setup nationwide in 2014 and funded through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with over $2 billion in federal grants.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

A Bangor methadone clinic’s plan to expand treatment is meeting resistance from some members of the city council and local residents.

Critics say Bangor is doing more than its fair share by offering treatment to 1,500 patients at three methadone clinics in the city, but substance abuse counselors say Bangor should be doing more to address addiction — not less.

Tuesday night the Saco planning board voted in support of a proposed ordinance that would require marijuana caregivers who grow outside their residences to operate within one of the city’s industrial zones.

That was a relief for Darrell Gudroe, board director of Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, who initially thought the ordinance sought to restrict caregivers who grow in their homes.

“We’re in favor of regulation, we’re just not in favor of overregulation,” he says.

Tuesday night the city of Saco is holding a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would put restrictions on where commercial medical marijuana caregivers can be located.

The ordinance would require all new commercial medical marijuana caregivers to operate their business in one of Saco’s industrial zones as opposed to out of their residences.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

A year ago this week a Chinese investment company called a news conference to announce big plans to convert a former Auburn shoe factory into a 5-star medical tourism facility.

Five states have been running a welfare fraud prevention pilot program that supporters say could save taxpayers across the country hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Two members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation say they would like to the system used nationwide.

Tom Porter / MPBN file

Maine’s two largest hospitals have received two out of five stars under Medicare’s new rating system for quality.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has issued an air quality alert because of climbing levels of ground-level ozone concentrations.

The agency says there will be "unhealthy'' levels along the coast from Kittery to Georgetown on Thursday. Moderate levels are also possible in the Midcoast region, the Downeast coast and the western interior of the state.

Approximately 8,800 pounds of raw beef products are being recalled due to their suspected role in an E. coli outbreak that has sickened more than a dozen people in New England — most of those cases in New Hampshire.

The products, originating from PT Farm in North Haverill, New Hampshire, were shipped to Maine and elsewhere in New England under different labels.

State Epidemiologist Siiri Bennett says the state has been working with the New Hampshire Department of Health, and so far one illness in Maine has been linked to the outbreak.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A new Maine law is about to take effect that requires the installation of locked boxes on state ferries to allow for transportation of medical samples.

The new law goes on the books on Friday. Supporters say it is designed to allow island residents to send samples to mainland hospitals and medical facilities without taking a time-consuming ferry ride.

PORTLAND, Maine — Some state health care organizations are opposing a proposed rule change by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that would provide the agency more leeway to withhold information regarding the locations of communicable disease outbreaks.

The Portland Press Herald reports that organizations including MaineHealth and the Maine Medical Association submitted comments in opposition during a public comment period that ended Monday.

Patty Wight / MPBN

In an emergency situation, first responders and doctors are typically the ones to provide immediate, life-saving help. But for survivors and witnesses of an accident or other crisis there can also be emotional trauma. And for 12 years, volunteers in Cumberland County have been stepping in to provide emotional first aid to family members and others who share the ordeal.

Just minutes after Carmen Charlton walked through the door of her Gorham home on March 22, her husband collapsed in their kitchen.

PORTLAND, Maine - Four Maine school districts and a provider of rural health care are sharing more in $1.6 million in federal funding to expand access to rural broadband and telemedicine.

The four school districts will use their U.S. Department of Agriculture money to purchase video conferencing equipment. The almost $400,000 that MaineHealth has been awarded will be used to install telehealth videoconferencing carts at six rural medical clinics and at three home health agency sites.

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — Supporters of a Maine law that called for rules for labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients say they’re let down by federal legislation.

The U.S. Senate bill, passed last week, would compel companies to disclose when foods contain genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs, via a text label, a symbol or an electronic code that’s readable by a smartphone.

The bill preempts Maine’s law. The U.S. House passed it Thursday.