AHA Foundation: Can you tell us a bit about the FGM situation in Maine?
Representative Sirocki: Maine may seem like a faraway place that it couldn’t possibly be happening. However, about 11% of the population in Lewiston is Somalian. And if you expect that 98% of all females have undergone mutilation in Somalia, then that tells me that you have a very deep-seated cultural inclination towards doing this. My mother comes from another culture and I know that people do bring with them their own cultural traditions. We need to make it clear to new people in this country that we do not tolerate something like FGM.
As far as the situation in Maine, I did ask the Department of Health and Human Services if they could run two reports. One was if anyone reported this procedure in our state. I was hearing anecdotally many reports. I wanted to know if the mandated reporters, the doctors and nurses, are reporting this to the proper authorities. And I found out that they are not. There has not been one single report.
“…it (FGM) is happening (in Maine) and providers are treating this and getting reimbursed for this but there is no reporting.”
Then, I asked the Department of Health and Human Services to run a MaineCare billing report. MaineCare is Maine’s version of the Medicaid program and about 25% of Mainers are on the Medicaid program. And last year, just that one year, three of the specific FGM codes were billed for 8 individuals and providers were reimbursed. We don’t know the ages of the females or where the charges were filed. I don’t know where the cutting took place. But this indicated to me that it is happening and that providers are treating this and getting reimbursed for this but there is no reporting.
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