There has been a great deal of public debate and discussion about the governor’s supplemental budget.

The cuts to MaineCare and the Private Non-Medical Institutions have garnered much of the attention, and for good reason. We also should put the proposed cuts to the Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) in the spotlight; cuts that will result in the elimination of essential prevention efforts in Maine.

It is important to note that the FHM was developed from tobacco settlement money and is not part of the state budget. Since its establishment, Maine has proudly used the fund as it was initially intended: targeting tobacco and preventable chronic conditions affecting Maine families.

Much of this work is done through the prevention efforts of the local Healthy Maine Partnerships, the foundation for Maine’s public health system, yet currently proposed for elimination.

Prevention is the first, best and most cost-effective step in decreasing and containing Maine’s health care costs. Currently, Maine is the eighth-healthiest state in the country, and is 22nd in public health spending, thus showcasing that every $1 spent on prevention Maine saves $7.50.

If the cuts to the Fund for Healthy Maine move forward as proposed, Maine will fall to 48th in public health spending, and, over time, one can safely assume Maine’s health ranking will be affected adversely.

There is no question Maine’s current economic state requires difficult decisions by our legislators. As discussion in Augusta continues, it is imperative that legislators understand the outcomes of past and current prevention efforts, and the long-term financial burden Maine will face if such prevention efforts are abolished.

Becky Davis-Allen

Farmington

Note: The author is a board member of Healthy Community Coalition at Franklin Memorial Hospital.


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