Friday, July 30, 2010

Health Reform Update

How to Find a Health Reform (PPACA) Related Grant in
1. Go to Click on "Find Grant Opportunities" and then "Advanced Search."
2. For the key word search, type in "Affordable Care Act."
3. Or, in the "Search by Funding Activity Category" field, choose "Health" (unless another subject is more appropriate). 4. Or, in the "Search by Agency" field, choose the appropriate agency (U.S. DHHS) or leave the field blank to select all.

Sign up for the RSS feed or daily emails with grant notices from U.S. DHHS or that are related to the Affordable Care Act.

New rules have been issued to make it easier to appeal decisions made by a person’s health plan, including claims denials and rescissions, directly to insurers and then, if necessary, to external review boards. For more information, see this press release from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and this Kaiser Health News article.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded several brief reports that explore the effects health reform will have on consumers, state government, the economy, and health care costs.

Two recently issued reports examine how physicians and hospitals will be affected.

HHS and the US Departments of Labor and Treasury have issued new regulations requiring new private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and eliminate cost-sharing requirements for those services. These rules are designed to enable easier access to blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests; many cancer screenings; routine vaccinations; pre-natal care; and regular wellness visits for infants and children. For more information:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maine gets official chapter of Hands & Voices

Hands & Voices, a national parent-driven, parent-professional collaborative nonprofit organization has recently accepted Maine’s start-up chapter as an official state chapter of the organization. Hands & Voices is dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing without bias surrounding communication choices.

The newly-established Maine chapter will focus in part on the follow-up of children after newborn hearing screenings and/or audiologic evaluations. Hands & Voices Maine will establish a Guide by Your Side Program to provide direct mentoring and support to families, which will complement the follow-up work of the Maine Newborn Hearing Program (MNHP) within Maine CDC/DHHS. MNHP was established by law in 2000 to provide information to families about hearing screening, evaluation, and services.

Vivian Mikhail, MNHP’s Parent Consultant and the start-up leader of Hands & Voices Maine, wrote a featured article for the Summer 2010 issue of the Hands & Voices national quarterly newsletter, The Communicator, titled "One Family's Journey: Reaching a New Normal."

For more information about Hands & Voices Maine, please contact Vivian at For more information about the Maine Newborn Hearing Program, please contact Betsy Glencross at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

National Take Back Initiative

On September 25, 2010, DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies focused on removing potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets. A national take-back day will provide a unified opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications to law enforcement officers for destruction. This one-day effort will bring national focus to the issue of pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. The program provides an opportunity for law enforcement, prevention, treatment, and the business community to collaborate and establish a safe collection site for all Americans, regardless of where they reside.

Click here to register.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Health Reform Update

This Kaiser Health News article describes seven health care changes that will take effect in the coming months:

This article explains Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research and its roles in health reform: is a new web site with various information, including your new consumer rights and benefits under the Affordable Care Act, a timeline of when new programs under the new law will come online between now and 2014 and a new insurance finder that will make it easy to find both private and public health insurance option that works for you. The site also features important new information about the quality of care available in outpatient and emergency departments, including how well hospitals care for patients with heart attacks and protect outpatients from surgical infections:

Tips for enjoying this weekend and the rest of the summer

Watch out for heat-related illness

Over the past 30 years more people have died in this country from heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. This Maine CDC web site has a variety of resources describing the signs of heat-related illness, what you can do if you suspect someone has a heat-related illness, and ways to prevent these illnesses.

Water Safety

· This web site has some basic tips for keeping children safe around open waters.

· This Maine CDC web site has tips for avoiding recreational water illnesses.

Food Safety

· This USDA fact sheet gives information on how to safely defrost frozen foods before cooking them.

· This food safety blog discusses food safety at farmer’s markets.

· US CDC describes food safety at fairs and festivals.

Other Precautions

· Playing outdoors this summer can mean getting cuts that may become infected with bacteria commonly found in soil, including the ones that cause tetanus. Tetanus vaccine can help prevent tetanus disease.

· A single mosquito bite can give you West Nile Virus. Why take a chance? Use repellant.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Health Updates

State Health Plan

The new state health plan has been released, outlining strategies for making Maine the healthiest state with the most efficient and effective health care delivery system by 2012. Currently, Maine is ranked the ninth healthiest state, up from sixteenth in 2003.

Other Health-related Reports

A new government report reveals that 90% of Americans are eating more salt than they should. Most salt comes from processed foods that don’t taste salty. For more information:

This new report shows Maine as the 29th most obese state in the nation:

Health Reform Update

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has established a new website - This web site features consumer information and implementation updates where people will be able to research plans available in their area. Pricing information will be available starting in October, and the site will also provide additional resources on quality.

The National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which was created by the health reform law, has submitted its first report to Congress. For more information:

Secretary Sebelius has announced an Affordable Care Act program to provide temporary coverage for Americans without insurance due to preexisting conditions. The program will cover people from now through 2014, when the new insurance exchanges are established. For more details, see this press release.

Questions and Answers related to Health Reform

· This blog post from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discusses protections that apply to people with private health insurance starting on or after September 23.

· Q&A for families and small business.

· Fact Sheet: The Affordable Care Act’s New Patient’s Bill of Rights

Updates related to Medicare and Medicaid

· This link describes strategies for reaching out to low-income individuals eligible for coverage through Medicaid and CHIP and enrolling them in the appropriate programs

· CMS has issued a proposed rule on preventive and primary care

Funding opportunity

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced a funding opportunity that will support school-based health center efforts to expand capacity to provide primary healthcare services to school-aged children. There will be awards of $50,000 to 1,000 school-based health centers nationwide for the purchase of moveable equipment to address significant and pressing needs and to support the expansion of services at SBHCs. Applications are due to HRSA July 30.

Maine CDC Advises Caution in Heat

Keep Cool, Drink Adequate Fluids, and Rest Frequently

With Maine heading into summer and a possible hot spell forecast for this upcoming weekend into next week, this is a reminder that it is important for all of us to prevent heat-related problems and to recognize the signs of heat illness early. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable, yet over the past 30 years more people have died in this country from heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.

All Mainers should take some simple measures to prevent heat-related illness. However, those who are most susceptible include infants and young children, people 65 years old and older, people with a mental illness, and those who are ill with chronic illnesses such as heart and lung diseases. High temperatures often contribute to poor air quality, which disproportionately also affects people with lung or heart conditions. Check for any air quality advisories on

It is also important for us to check on our neighbors, family and friends, especially those who are at high risk for heat-related illness.

Heat index is a measurement that combines air temperature and humidity in order to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature. The three-day forecast for heat index can be found at:

Some measures communities and officials may consider if the heat index is 95 or above:
• Extend the hours of swimming areas such as pools and beaches.
• Make sure public events have as much shade, beverages, and other cooling measures available as possible.
• Work with organizations such as emergency management agencies, other government officials, Area Agencies on Aging, Healthy Maine Partnerships, health organizations, and others to identify and promote cooling centers. In other states cooling centers are often located in local senior centers, adult day service sites, health centers, libraries, churches, or businesses with air conditioning that do not mind providing chairs for others to come and sit to cool down.
• Check on people living alone and/or who are more vulnerable to heat’s effects.
• Use communication channels to provide advice to individuals on addressing the heat.

Some measures all should consider:

Keep Cool
• Use air conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building such as a store, a library, or a cooling center.
• If you don't have air conditioning in your home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try to cool it down.
• Take a cool shower or bath.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
• Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
• Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g., straw or mesh) when in the sun, even if it is cloudy.
• Never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes. Even with the windows rolled down two inches, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures on a hot summer day.

Drink Fluids
• Drink more fluids regardless of your activity level.
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks, since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
• If you are on fluid restrictions or on diuretics, ask your doctor how much fluids you should drink.

Rest Frequently
• Take regular breaks from physical activity – at least every hour.
• Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).

If you must be out in the heat
• Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
• Rest often in shady areas – at least every hour.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

With many summer camps in session, it is important for coaches and teachers to make sure children and youth are given frequent rest breaks and are drinking plenty of fluids, including stopping play or other activity at any time they desire for rest and fluids. Children are more sensitive to heat and dehydration than adults, and dehydration can occur quickly in them.

It is also important for us to recognize the early signs of heat-related illnesses and what to do about them. During normal weather, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, during periods of extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. If the body cannot cool itself, serious illness can result. Those who are susceptible, such as infants, children, older adults, those with mental illness or other chronic illnesses, are less able to sweat or regulate their internal temperatures than others, and are much more likely to become overheated. They need more frequent rest and cool down breaks than others do.

Serious heat-related illnesses include:

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Body temperatures can reach dangerous levels. Warning signs include hot, dry, red skin (no sweating), rapid pulse, high body temperature (≥ 105 F), headache, loss of alertness, confusion, rapid and shallow breathing, and unconsciousness or coma. Emergency 911 should be called immediately. While waiting for assistance, cool the person rapidly with such methods as moving them to a shady or cooler area, using cool water, ice, fans, and loosening their clothing.

Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people over-exert themselves in high heat and humidity. Symptoms include heavy sweating, fainting, vomiting, cold, pale, and clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea and weakness. Move the person to a cool place, have them drink fluids and rest, loosen their clothes, and cool them off with water or wet cloths. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke. So, if symptoms worsen or do not improve, get medical help.

Heat cramps are muscle cramps in the abdominal area or extremities (e.g. arms and legs) that often occur in people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity and as a result their muscles lose salt and moisture. The cramps are often accompanied by heavy sweating and mild nausea. Move the person to a cool place to rest, and apply firm pressure to the cramping muscle. The person can also gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold it for 20 seconds, and then gently massage it. Have the person drink some cool beverages such as water or a sports drink. The person should seek medical attention if there is no improvement or if the person has underlying medical problems.

Sunburn damages the skin and causes the skin to become red, painful, and warm after sun exposure. Medical attention should be sought if the sunburn affects an infant or if there is fever, fluid-filled blisters, or severe pain. Otherwise, the person should avoid sun exposure, apply cold compresses or immerse the burned skin in cool water, apply moisturizing lotion to the burn.

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot humid weather and is most common in young children. The rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters and is most common in the neck and upper chest and in creases such as in the elbow and groin. Move the person to a cooler place and keep the affected area dry. The person can also use talcum powder to increase comfort.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Making mammograms and related services accessible

This MedlinePlus article describes some of the barriers to getting mammograms that low-income women face.

The Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) is a comprehensive breast and cervical cancer early detection program housed within Maine CDC’s Division of Chronic Disease. Early detection continues to be the best way to combat breast and cervical cancer. The program’s mission is to help low-income, uninsured and underinsured women gain access to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to support and enhance breast and cervical cancer control activities statewide.

The MBCHP is responsible for coordinating the delivery of the respective screening and diagnostic services to underserved women through a statewide network of primary care and diagnostic health care providers. The MBCHP collaborates with a variety of community-based organizations to promote the availability of the program’s covered services.

The MBCHP contracts with more than 125 primary care provider sites throughout the state to provide enrolled women with a clinical breast exam, pelvic exam and Pap test, and referral for a mammogram. The PCP sites collaborate with the MBCHP to coordinate needed diagnostic testing if screenings identify an abnormality that is suspicious for cancer. The MBCHP provider network also includes mammography facilities throughout the state that provide screening and diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds and laboratories that provide cytology and pathology services.

Successful management of the MBCHP relies heavily on ongoing collaboration and cooperation with staff at the DHHS Office of Integrated Access and Support (OIAS) and Office of Medical Services (OMS).

Currently, the MBCHP has more than 6,200 women actively enrolled in the early detection program, who are eligible for an annual mammogram and Pap testing per recommended screening schedules. To date, more than 318 breast cancers and 86 cervical cancer/pre-cancerous conditions have been detected because of the quality and timely services delivered by MBCHP providers statewide.

For more information, visit or call the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program at 1-800-350-5180, TYY: 207-287-8015.