The Coastal Packet: Down East Notes

Thursday, March 5

Down East Notes

Press Herald - Maine fishermen set a state record with a catch valued at more than $585 million in 2014. State fishery officials say the combined fisheries jumped $44 million in value from 2013 to 2014. Lobsters accounted for more than $456 million of the total in 2014, a surge that helped propel the record haul. Lobsters grew in value by more than $86 million from 2013.

Sun Journal - Hospital executives and their representatives lined up Wednesday to say a proposed two-year budget offered by Republican Gov. Paul LePage would damage the state's health care system and put hospitals deeper in debt if passed by the Legislature. DHHS is the state's largest agency, spending about $3.9 billion in state and federal funds in 2014. The agency is funded with about $1.8 billion from the state's General Fund. Especially at risk are smaller rural hospitals that serve as critical access hospitals, including Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway and Rumford Hospital. LePage's proposal, presented by DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, offers complex changes that include increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care physicians while reducing those rates for hospitals. Jeff Austin, who represents the Maine Hospital Association, said combined with the loss of federal matching funds, hospitals would lose at least $55 million a year. That loss does not include the costs hospitals would face if LePage's proposal to allow cities and towns to apply property taxes to nonprofits were enacted, Austin said.

WCSH - Sixteen term Barney Frank is now spending almost half the year in Maine. Frank married Jim Ready of Ogunquit and now maintains offices in Ogunquit and Boston. He is completing an autobiography that begins when he is a young teenager and realizes he is gay.

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