New version of health care bill will help Alaska, Maine — home of two holdout senators

 

WASHINGTON — The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, will propose giving Alaska and Maine get more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan CollinsMaine, who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.

Advertisements

Portland changes Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

PORTLAND (WGME) — Columbus Day for Portland and Brunswick will also now be known as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

City and town councilors voted in favor of that change Monday night.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday which Portland city councilors have no control over.

Monday night’s public comment on changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day stirred up conversation.

Some were against the change, claiming Christopher Columbus is a part of America’s history.

Others disagreed, claiming it was the indigenous people who found our county, and the change would be an outlet to reveal the truth.

Federally, America has celebrated Columbus Day since the 1930s. Some residents recommended councilors chose a different date, but councilors voted unanimously for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, claiming Portland residents have the opportunity to celebrate which ever they’d like.

The resolution was sponsored by City Councilor Pious Ali. He says he’s very pleased with the outcome.

hqdefault

Union officials accuse Bath Iron Works of unfair labor practices

As leaders of the draftsmen’s union at Bath Iron Works met again Tuesday with company officials in an attempt to reach agreement on a new four-year contract, local union officials released a statement warning of a strike and accusing the company of engaging in “unfair labor practice issues.”

A key issue is BIW’s proposal to eliminate most of the flexible schedule benefit, which union leaders say has benefitted members, Trent Velella, vice president of the union, said in a release Tuesday.

“Flexibility in the workplace has allowed members to balance the needs of their families including children, aging [parents], and personal medical and health issues while designing some of the world’s finest Navy ships,” UAW Region 9A director Julie Kushner said in the release, adding that the UAW International fully supports the local Bath union.

Political tensions, financial worries drive doomsday bunker sales

North Korea’s nuclear tests, severe weather and fears of a financial meltdown are boosting demand for underground bunkers in Maine.

Northeast Bunkers of Pittsfield is “busy as the dickens,” its owner said about the recent nuclear threats and hurricanes.

“Generally speaking, we have higher sales with these types of events,” said owner Frank Woodworth, a former general contractor who started his underground shelter business 15 years ago.

His two-person company sells four to six steel shelters a year ranging from 8×13 feet for two people to 8×20 feet for four people. Prices range from $40,000 to $60,000 installed. Customers are located across Maine, but mostly west of the 20-mile area near the coastline. He’s installed about 50 bunkers to date.

Customers who install bunkers are secretive about it, he said, declining to refer the Bangor Daily News to any of them for comment.

His company uses camouflage and indigenous trees and brush to hide the entrances. The bunkers, buried three to four feet underground with a doorway and stairs to get down to them, also have leach fields for septic, are near groundwater and have filtration systems to keep out gases.

Bunkers were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, especially during the Cold War and Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. One such shelter, built by an Augusta man in the 1950s, made the news in 2011 when officials said it was blocking a $17.3 million sewer project. The former owner said it was protection against a nuclear attack.

Nowadays, bunkers are built not just for doomsdayers, but for the wealthy worried about safety, and for others concerned about civil unrest, financial collapse and nuclear attacks. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian reportedlyordered an elaborate underground shelter after she was attacked in Paris.

Rising S Company of Murchison, Texas, is one of the largest bunker makers in the country, producing about 160, or 10 a year, since it started. About 30 of those bunkers are in Maine, including some near Portland, he said.

Echoing Woodworth’s comments about clients wanting privacy, he said only half a dozen of the total shelters he’s installed were done so with a building permit. Permits typically are required for expansions or buildings added to existing property.

Customers typically decide to order bunkers based on an accumulation of concerns, not because of one event, like the changing of a president, Lynch said.

“But we’ve seen an increase in sales recently in the last couple months with North Korea’s talk about and then doing missile tests,” he said. That includes four bunkers his company installed in Japan.

His shelters, which are custom built of steel and are square to allow more room, range from $39,500 up to the most expensive he’s sold so far, a $14 million, 8,000-square-foot bunker in metropolitan Los Angeles. It has a swimming pool and a bowling alley.

In Maine’s Farmington region, Margaret, a retired school teacher, and her husband, a retired Air Force colonel, had a 1,000-square-foot Rising S bunker installed in March. So far, the longest they’ve stayed in it without coming out has been 18 days. They bought the bunker over worries about war and the instability of the banking system.

“The U.S. is an enemy to so many nations,” said Margaret, who spoke via email through Lynch on the condition that her last name and exact location not be used.

She described the bunker as having three bedrooms and an open floor plan with a kitchen, dining and living areas. It sleeps 10 people. The amenities include an air filtration system, plumbing and a homey feel inside.

“I have decorated it with family portraits and other things from around our home so it really feels good when we go inside,” she said.

download (1)

High court to decide if medical marijuana covered by workers’ comp

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will decide if state law requires Workers’ Compensation Insurance to pay for a millworker’s medical marijuana or if the insurer could be charged as an accessory in a drug deal under federal law.

Justices are set to hear arguments in the case Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, which will be the first time the state’s highest court has considered the question of insurance reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana.

The case pits a former Madawaska mill employee, injured on the job, against the company that administers the mill’s insurance for injured workers.

Gaetan Bourgoin, now 58, of Madawaska, in 2015 sought reimbursement for medical marijuana prescribed for pain due to a back injury suffered in 1989 when he was 29 and working at what is now Twin Rivers Paper Co.

Bourgoin tried a variety of opioid-based painkillers over the years without relief, according to briefs filed in Portland.

images (2)

LePage cuts last direct ties with tribes on public health

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has cut off state funding that the four federally recognized Native American tribes in Maine were using to plan an expansion of addiction treatment and mental health care in their communities.

The move comes six years after Maine started including the tribes in state-funded efforts to combat major health problems. Tribal leaders now worry that recent initiatives to develop an addiction treatment center serving tribal members, improve life for seniors, and tackle other health challenges in the tribal communities in eastern and northern Maine could stall.

The public health work “was beginning to have some positive results, and, now, all of a sudden, it’s gone,” said Theodore Bear Mitchell I, a former Penobscot Indian Nation representative in the Maine Legislature.

Compared with Maine’s population, tribal members face higher rates of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure; they have markedly higher smoking and heavy drinking rates; and they have lower life expectancy.

hqdefault.jpg

Evil Whore, Education Secretary DeVos to Scrap Campus Sexual Assault Protections

H14 devos

Evil whore, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday the Trump administration will roll back rules aimed at protecting survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. The move reverses President Obama’s 2011 directive on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools. Speaking in Arlington, Virginia, DeVos said the changes were denying due process rights to those accused of rape and sexual misconduct on campuses.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach. With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today.”

DeVos’s comments drew protests from survivors of campus sexual assault, who rallied outside the building at George Mason University where DeVos delivered her remarks. This is Sofie Karasek of the group EROC, or End Rape on Campus.

Sofie Karasek: “What she’s trying to do is to tip the scales in favor of perpetrators, and that she is siding with rapists. That’s what she decided to do today. And we, as survivors and students and as allies, we’re not going to stand for that. And we will not go back to the days when all you were getting for committing rape was either nothing or a $20 fine and an essay assignment.”