Susan Collins gives her mother a ticket to meet Pope Francis

Good morning from Augusta, where on one hand the federal government giveth and on the other it taketh away. 

On Thursday, state government made two major announcements that have been months in coming. On one hand, the U.S. Department of Education granted Maine a three-year waiver from the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which means the feds have approved the state’s plan to improve public schools and won’t pull $48 million in federal Title 1 funding. The federal government notified the state in late 2014 that its waiver application needed more work. 

On the other hand, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services missed a deadline in 2013 to appeal a decision by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to decertify Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. Some $20 million in annual federal funding has continued to flow to Riverview since the decertification in September 2013, though the consequence of failure to recertify has always been clear: Maine could lose the federal funding moving into the future and be forced to repay the money it has received since decertification. 

The state is considering appealing Thursday’s decision, so this fight isn’t over. — Christopher Cousins 

King calls for ramp-up of telemedicine

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King on Thursday called on the federal government to increase investments in telemedicine, which allows patients to receive health care services from their homes, through the Internet or telephone.

King said during a roundtable discussion he hosted on the issue Thursday at the University of Maine in Orono that in addition to greater federal investments, there need to be changes in regulatory laws and extensive training of front-line health care workers.

“Telemedicine has the potential to revolutionize the way we deliver health care in America,” said King in a written statement. “Right here in Maine, we have seen how new telehealth technologies are helping to connect people to their doctors without even leaving their homes. It’s an advancement that we must continue to invest in and capitalize on, and [Thursday’s] forum was an important opportunity to share ideas, identify regulatory barriers to deployment of telemedicine, and develop strategies to advance these positive developments.”

King said regulatory “uncertainty” and inconsistent reimbursement rules and rates for health services have hampered the spread of telehealth and in many states like Maine, a shortage of broadband Internet service is also a problem.

King is a member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society’s Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Infomatics.”

Susan Collins gives her mother a ticket to meet Pope Francis

Pope Francis I’s planned address to Congress on Sept. 24 is being called the hottest ticket in Washington and some members of Congress are struggling with a decision about who to give their guest tickets to.

Each member of the House and Senate has his or her own seat at the event — which is the first time a pope has addressed the U.S. Congress — plus a guest ticket for a seat in the gallery. According to the Associated Press, Collins will give her ticket to her mother, Pat, who headed Catholic Charities of Maine.

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Presidential love child confirmed 90 years after the fact

Here’s your soundtrack, from Frank Zappa.

New genetic tests have confirmed for the first time what historians have suspected all along: President Warren G. Harding had a love child in an extramarital affair.

Harding, our 29th president, and his descendants have long argued that Nan Britton’s claims that her daughter was Harding’s were nothing more than an effort to smear the former president and in later years, tarnish his legacy. According to an article in the New York Times on Wednesday, Britton claimed carnal relations with the president in a White House coat closet.

A coat closet? Harding might’ve been virile but his sense of romance was seriously lacking. — Christopher Cousins



Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.