July 30, 2013

Letters to the editor: Unneeded rules limit blood donations

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Brian Hodges of West Gardiner waits in line to give blood July 12 at the American Red Cross donor center in Portland. Hodges was turned down under a federal policy that bars gay men from contributing to the blood supply.

2013 File Photo/John Patriquin

Conversely, a sound national nutrition program based on vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits and nuts can save additional billions in reduced social costs.

I am all in favor of reducing our national deficit, government waste and medical costs. But that's not going to happen by taking nutritious food from the mouths of 47 million of our society's least privileged members.

Patrick Wayne
Portland

Bipartisan bill eases fears of losing nursing home beds

As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, I work on a broad spectrum of legislation, everything from bills dealing with adoption services to tobacco specialty stores.

With our aging citizenry (Maine's population has the oldest median age in the country, at 43.5), we also deal with many bills involving elder services and nursing home care.

It may be of interest to the general public to know that Gov. LePage recently signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, to adjust the number of nursing home bed "holds."

L.D. 1364, a bill that I was proud to co-sponsor, increases the number of days that a nursing home can hold a bed while an individual is temporarily at the hospital.

According to Rick Erb, president and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association, the average length of a hospital stay is less than six days. The new law allows for seven hospital days per stay and up to 20 therapeutic days per year. Under the old law, an absence of four days could have resulted in a forfeiture of a nursing home bed.

Therapeutic days are held at a lower daily rate, thus saving the state money, while also allowing nursing home residents the freedom to periodically visit their loved ones (for a weekend, for example) without the worry of losing their bed.

Understandably, many nursing home residents worry about losing their beds for situations beyond their control, such as a medical condition. While recognizing that we need to prioritize limited state resources, this bill is not as generous as some would prefer.

That being said, I am pleased with the compromise that we were able to accomplish with the passage of this bipartisan legislation.

Rep. Heather Sirocki
R-Scarborough

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