Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday morning he would like to close Maine’s methadone clinics.

“I’ve been trying to close down methadone clinics since I’ve been governor,” said LePage during his weekly radio appearance on WVOM. “When it comes to methadone, every expert I’ve talked to says there’s no clinical aspect to it. … It’s no help. It has to be in a program that’s monitored by clinicians.”

The governor’s comments come as the Bangor City Council is considering the expansion of a methadone clinic and as the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing new rules about how the clinics operate. Though two advocates at a public hearing Monday said the proposed rules are aimed at improving quality of service, they said without more funding some clinics will not survive the new mandates. Also timely and relevant is the administration’s rejection Monday of opioid addiction as a qualifying condition under Maine’s medical marijuana program.

LePage said he is not convinced that methadone clinics serve patients properly, especially when it comes to counseling. He said he monitored a clinic several years ago for about 90 minutes and saw a continued parade of people in an out, at about 7-minute intervals.

“You can’t get a lot of therapy in seven minutes,” said LePage, who also expressed concern about patients driving after their methadone doses. LePage was not optimistic that the new rules on methadone clinics, which among other things ramp up paperwork and reporting requirements and introduce new dosage guidelines, will be approved by the federal Center Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“If it’s the federal government, forget it,” said LePage. “It won’t get approved.”

In an unrelated exchange, LePage and the WVOM radio hosts went on full attack against the Bangor Daily News this morning. Give it a listen and decide for yourself. If you’re interested, here’s the story they were talking about, along with a previous fact-check we did last week of LePage’s June town hall meeting in Richmond.

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