Substance Abuse

Maine Lawmakers Propose a Bill Targeting Medical Professionals with Substance Abuse Problems

A group of lawmakers has proposed legislation that seeks to update Maine’s existing law governing the reporting and discipline of health care providers with addiction problems.

Rep. Jane Pringle, a retired primary care physician who is serving her first term in the Main House, and six other legislators sponsored LD 411, an act that aims to amend the health care practitioner licensing, disciplinary and reporting laws regarding alcohol and drug abuse.

The legislation calls for updating certain terminologies in the Maine Health Security Act — replacing the term “habitual drunkenness” with “use of alcohol or drugs that may indicate a substance abuse disorder” — to appropriately reflect that substance abuse is a disease, Bangor Daily News reports.

Pringle said she sponsored the bill at the request of the Maine Medical Association, which represents about 3,800 physicians, medical residents and students in the state.

LD 411 would also allow licensing boards to take action if a medical professional’s alcohol or drug use “may” endanger a patient. Under the current law, licensing boards are only authorized to discipline a medical professional when their alcohol or drug use “is foreseeably likely to” endanger the health or safety of the patients.

Rep. Victoria Kornfield, a Bangor Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement that the bill would provide the public transparency and give Maine’s licensing board the “flexibility they need to ensure public safety.”

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