AUGUSTA — Lawmakers will weigh whether to fund a bill calling for $1.7 million to boost needle exchange programs in Maine.

The bill, which mirrors failed efforts in past years, has sailed through the Democratic-led House and Senate.

Now, it sits in the Senate awaiting funding as lawmakers hash out a deal on the two-year, $8 billion budget.

The bill would direct $1.7 million from Maine’s general fund to the Department of Health and Human Services in the fiscal year starting this summer to support hypodermic apparatus exchange programs.

Maine has lost over a person a day to a drug overdose in recent years.

The Health Equity Alliance says Maine’s rates of hepatitis C was over four times the national average in 2015 and cost the state roughly $18 million per year.


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