Health and health care news

PORTLAND, Maine — The National Commission on Hunger was in Maine today seeking public input on how best to help people who struggle to put food on the table.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democrats fed up with the health insurance industry used President Barack Obama's overhaul to create nonprofit co-ops that would compete against entrenched corporations. Taxpayers put up $2.4 billion in loans to get the co-ops going.

But a government audit out Thursday finds that co-ops are awash in red ink and many have fallen short of sign-up goals.

BANGOR, Maine — This week Medicare reaches a milestone. The program will officially turn 50 on Thursday, and proponents are celebrating at events across the state and the country.

Amidst the fanfare, some are calling for improvements to Medicare, and even an expansion of the government program to cover all U.S. citizens.

Democratic congressional hopeful Emily Cain sponsored a Medicare birthday party at the Sylvia Ross Home in Bangor on Wednesday. Before indulging in some birthday cake, 72-year-old Diane Grandmaison addressed the party-goers.

Patty Wight / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine — Summer is a time for kids to get a break from school and have some fun. But it's also a time when hunger can become a problem, as kids don't have access to school breakfast and lunch programs.

Family caregivers are more valuable than ever to the economy, according to a new report by the AARP.

The study, titled Valuing the Invaluable, is the first effort in four years to calculate the level of unpaid work done by family members in caring for elderly or disabled relatives.

It finds that in 2013, 40 million family caregivers across the nation provided approximately 37 billion hours of care to adults with needs. The economic value of that is estimated at $470 billion - up from 450 billion four years earlier.