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Maine House Joins Senate in Supporting Public Health Nurses

The Maine House has joined the Senate in supporting a bill to increase the number of public health nurses.

Just a few years ago there were 59 public health nurses statewide, but the LePage administration has reduced that to just 20. Rep. Patricia Hymanson, a Democrat from York, says that number is too low.

“It is foolhardy to leave the citizens of our state in the same state of unreadiness that led to such tragic loss of life 100 years ago during the influenza epidemic of 1918,” she says.

Opponents of the bill say LePage is right-sizing the public health system. But a significant majority of lawmakers in both the House and Senate say he’s gone too far.

The Senate voted 30-5 and the House 83-62 to restore those lost positions. The bill faces a likely veto from Gov. Paul LePage, but the nurse positions could also end up in the budget bill that is now under negotiation.