Maine Policy Review author interviewed by Maine Public

Ron Deprez, author of “Population Health Improvement: It’s Up to the Community—Not the Healthcare System,” which appeared in the last issue of Maine Policy Review, discussed his research with Irwin Gratz of Maine Public. You can listen an excerpt of the interview here.

Deprez, president of the Public Health Research Institute (Deer Isle, Maine) and an associate research professor at the University of New England, also took part in a Maine Calling program on population health, along with Barbara Leonard, president and CEO of the Maine Health Access Foundation, and  Dr. Michael Duffy, primary care medical director for Mercy Hospital.

The full article, “Population Health Improvement: It’s Up to the Community—Not the Healthcare System,” is available on our Digital Commons site.


Marcella Sorg’s research on drug overdose deaths in Maine

Research conducted by Marcella Sorg, PhD, of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, for the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner shows that in 2016 there was a nearly 40% increase in deaths due to a drug overdose from 2015. The overwhelming majority of these deaths, 84%, were caused alone or in combination with an opioid. New maps from the Portland Press Herald illustrate the extent of all drug overdose deaths and opioid deaths by county in Maine in 2016. These maps result from the expanded Maine Drug Death Report for 2016, written by Marcella Sorg and just released by Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.

“The number of deaths caused by heroin and fentanyl is unprecedented,” said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. The summary shows how the numbers of drug deaths are expanding across the state. Only 5 counties had more than 10 deaths in 2015 and in 2016 that number increased to 10 counties. It also shows that traditional service center cities are bearing a heavy load. While Portland has 5% of the state’s total population, 11% of the overdose deaths were recorded there in 2016. Bangor is home to just 2% of the total population, but it recorded 9% of the 2016 overdose deaths.

The analysis shows that while deaths due to pharmaceutical opioids have been eclipsed by fentanyl and heroin, the number of deaths from prescription painkillers increased last year to 123 – the highest level since 2010. An analysis conducted by Dr. Sorg of the cases in 2015 in which a pharmaceutical opioid was implicated as a cause of death observed that only 7 percent had a prescription for that drug at the time of their death.

Download the full report: EXPANDED MAINE DRUG DEATH REPORT FOR 2016

Read the Portland Press Herald article

MCS Policy Center is hiring

The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine invites applications for a full-time Research Associate or Senior Research Associate. The Policy Center is a nonpartisan, independent research and public service unit of the University of Maine. Our research is interdisciplinary, cutting across departmental lines to bring together faculty, students, and external policy experts to address issues confronting Maine and the nation. The candidate should have a strong educational background (ideally a graduate degree) in economics or policy-related discipline and have experience conducting policy research.

Please see the full job description for details.

Applications received by May 15th will receive full consideration. Queries may be sent to

Marcella Sorg Will Receive 2017 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award

Research Professor Marcella Sorg will receive the 2017 Presidential Public Service Achievement Award for her contribution to the university. The award will be presented at the President’s Faculty Recognition Luncheon May 13.

Sorg is a research professor at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center with joint appointments in the Department of Anthropology and the Climate Change Institute. Her research specializes in health policy, particularly as it concerns public health, public safety, and the investigation of death and injury.

In her current focus, Sorg leads the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center’s Rural Drug and Alcohol Research Program in informing regional and national efforts to control the opioid epidemic involving heroin and prescription pain medications. She also represents Maine on the National Drug Early Warning System of the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Please see the UMaine News article for a full description: UMaine names 2017 Presidential Award winners

Barbara Leonard will be Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow, April 4

Barbara Leonard, President and CEO of Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF), will be the next Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow on Tuesday, April 4th. Leonard joined the MeHAF team in 2007 and has played a leadership role in philanthropic and public health program development, administration, management and evaluation at the state and national level.

Leonard has developed initiatives such as a comprehensive portfolio of grants focused on payment reform, the multi-year Integrated Care Initiative, and MeHAF’s work in oral health. She also spearheaded MeHAF’s efforts to develop ongoing data analysis and reporting to illuminate access barriers to health care, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or who face other systemic barriers to care.

During her day at UMaine Leonard will meet with students, faculty, and researchers on campus. A public reception will be held at the University Club in Fogler Library at 4:00PM. Her visit is sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are prominent Maine individuals with past or current careers as policy makers in the state. The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings these individuals to campus for a day to teach an undergraduate class, engage faculty about research and public policy, and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students. More information is available on the webpage of the Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows Program.

Trostel Study Referenced in Bangor Daily News Op-Ed

Professor Phil Trostel’s study PATH TO A BETTER FUTURE: The Fiscal Payoff of Investment in Early Childhood Development in Maine was referenced in a Bangor Daily News opinion article March 27 entitled A commitment to poor children’s well-being is key to Maine’s future prosperity. Authors argue that public investment in early childhood development is essential to Maine’s future and economic development.

Trostel’s study on investment in early childhood development can be found here:

Trostel interviewed on ABC/Fox News

Policy Center and School of Economics Professor Philip Trostel was interviewed for a story which aired March 17 on his research on Mainers’ saving for retirement. Trostel’s recent report for the AARP examines the fiscal costs of insufficient saving for retirement. His study indicates that Mainers aren’t saving as much as they should. Trostel estimates the future costs to taxpayers from new retirees in Maine and in the United States.

The news story appears here:

The final report on “The Fiscal Implications of Inadequate Saving for Retirement” is available for download.

MCS Library Scholarship awarded to Waterman

UMaine senior Madison Waterman has been awarded the Margaret Chase Smith Library Scholarship for 2017. Madison is a Political Science/Spanish double major. She will be conducting research for her Political Science capstone project examining the perceptions of women as candidates for national office.

Madison plans to examine Senator Smith’s archives related to her nomination and presidential campaign. Materials to be reviewed include internal campaign materials, as
well as transcripts of speeches and interviews she gave about her campaign. Madison says she will “examine the ways in which Senator Smith presented herself as
a candidate and how she was treated by the media and the Republican Party,” and plans to compare her candidacy with that of the first female Democratic candidate to have her name placed in nomination, Rep. Shirley Chisholm.

Madison was just awarded this scholarship and has already visited the MCS Library for some preliminary research of Sen. Smith’s presidential nomination file, her speeches, and scrapbooks, and is “very excited to start writing”.

This scholarship supports up to two UMaine students to engage in research using the archival or museum collections of the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.

Trostel’s Report on Retirement Savings in Maine is Available

A final report by Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and School of Economics Professor Philip Trostel on “The Fiscal Implications of Inadequate Saving for Retirement” is now available. This study estimates the future costs to taxpayers from new retirees in Maine and in the United States.

According to AARP Maine, one-third of Mainers 65+ rely entirely on Social Security, an average annual income of $14,000, and the typical working household in Maine has only $3,000 saved for retirement. The lack of personal saving for retirement means many of the costs of retirement for are covered through government spending, by transfer payments such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, various types of cash assistance, energy assistance, housing subsidies, and Supplemental Security Income.

Trostel’s study looks at the fiscal costs (to federal/state/local governments) of “new retirees” (people turning 65 in coming years) by calculating transfer payments (cash and in-kind) to this population. He estimates that in Maine, public-assistance spending on the retirement-age population for 2016 was $164 million, with about $28 million of the fiscal cost financed within the state. Continuing demographic change (i.e., baby boomers reaching retirement age) will cause these costs to rise substantially.

The fiscal cost from the retirement-age population does not have to grow to such a magnitude, however. Increasing retirement income  through greater pre-retirement savings can substantially reduce taxpayer contributions for public assistance. Trostel estimates that, nationally, an additional $1,000 in retirement income for every retiree would lead to $3.9 billion in fiscal savings by 2032. An additional $1,000 in retirement income per retiree in Maine would create $15.6 million in fiscal savings in 2032. Results emphasized in the report are for Maine and the United States, and projections are for the 15 years from 2018 through 2032.

Both a policy brief and the full report are available for download.

State Treasurer Terry Hayes, Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow

Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes visited UMaine on February 23 as part of the Center’s Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows (DMPF) Program. The program brings prominent Maine policy makers to campus for a day to teach an undergraduate class, engage with faculty on research and public policy issues, and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students. Her visit was hosted by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and co-sponsored by the Maine Business School.

During her visit, Treasurer Hayes guest lectured in a Foundations of Leadership class, met with faculty in the Maine Business School, took a student-led tour of the Maine Business School’s Capital Markets training lab, and met with several UMaine administrators including Dr. Ivan Manev, Dean of the Maine Business School; Jake Ward, Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development; and Sarah Doheny, Director of Student Financial Aid.

Terry Hayes was re-elected by a bipartisan majority at the Joint Convention of the 128th Maine Legislature to the office of State Treasurer for 2017-2018. She is the first Unenrolled Treasurer in Maine’s history.