Maine Medicine Fares Well on Veto Day

Maine Medicine Fares Well on Veto Day

Created on: Monday, May 02, 2016
Author: Maine Medical Association

Of the 33 bills vetoed by Governor LePage, only one bill relating in any way to medicine was the subject of a sustained veto. LD 867 would have had some limited effect on the tax on marijuana dispensaries. The override vote failed by a significant margin in the House.

Of the 20 vetoes that were overridden, 10 related in some way to medical issues. We will address them in legislative document (LD) numeric order.

LD 365 (now labeled Public Law chapter 503) calls for a tax reduction for home modifications for disabled persons. The Governor opposed it because it calls for expenditures from the General Fund. He also said in his veto message that even if he did support such a bill, he disagrees with the income cap of $55,000.

LD 690 (PL chapter 502) provides for the licensing of midwives in Maine. The Governor said that private associations can set standards for midwives without regulation by the state, and he is concerned that the bill calls for its implementation by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation using existing resources rather than an appropriation by the Legislature.

LD 1465 (Resolve chapter 87) is a “Resolve” requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to commission a study of ambulance services in Maine. The Governor objects to funding a study out of the DHHS budget, stating that if the Legislature wants such a study it should pay for it.

LD 1468 (Resolve chapter 86) requires state ferries to provide locked containers for the shipment of medical specimens from the islands to the mainland, and it calls for a review of the Maine State Ferry Service. The Governor objects to the Legislature “tell[ing] a department in the Executive Branch how to do its job….”

LD 1498 (PL chapter 511) clarifies Medicaid ombudsman services for children under MaineCare. The Governor said the bill was unnecessary as an “inoperable expansion of government” due to the funding mechanism, which forbids the use of State funds to achieve its purposes. These purposes, the Governor stated, can be provided by a private organization without government involvement.

LD 1547 (PL chapter 508) allows the sale of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, “behind the counter” but without a prescription. This will allow both first responders and private citizens to purchase Naloxone. The Governor’s veto, he said, is based on his belief that the bill simply “Creat[es] a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produc[ing] a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.” He also said, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

LD 1552 (PL chapter 507) establishes a hypodermic needle exchange program. The Governor’s veto is based solely on the fact that the bill does not appropriate any money to fund its operation.

LD 1617 (PL chapter 506) appropriates money to fund two additional positions in the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The Governor stated that these positions are “not necessary in a government of this size, which already has many employees and unfilled positions.”

LD 1645 (PL chapter 505) funds pay increases for direct care employees at Riverview Psychiatric Center, to help with recruiting efforts. The Governor stated, “The easiest thing the Legislature can do to help Riverview is to stop subjecting it to a constant barrage of hearings reports and studies.” He said that the greatest barrier to recruitment is not the wage level but, rather, “the negative publicity [Riverview] receives in the media.”

LD 1696 (Resolve chapter 88) calls for a moratorium on rate cuts under chapters 13, 17, 28 and 65 of the MaineCare Benefits Manual until 2017. The Governor stated that the bill is a “highly partisan measure” that allows one branch of government to “infringe on the powers of another.”

The MMA will soon be publishing a review of the entire two-year legislative session, focusing on those bills which affect medicine most significantly.

We welcome your thoughts on the bills discussed above. Just write in a comment below.


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