MPBN’s ‘Two Maines’
My first reaction to hearing the news of the impending discontinuation of operation of the MPBN transmission towers in Calais and Fort Kent was a selfish one of relief that it wasn’t going to affect me. However, I quickly realized how abandoned I would feel if I did live in these service areas.
There are so many forces working to promote the “Two Maines” attitude and statewide reception of MPBN is one of the most important tools to counteract this attitude and strengthen a feeling of being one state. Personally, I would prefer that MPBN reduce programming and even hours of transmission to all of us rather than shutting some of us out. I wonder if there are not many more supporters of MPBN who feel the same way.
Having read about the demographics of their audience, I think many of us are motivated to provide the best we can for all of us and not just to those who happen to live in certain areas of the state. MPBN has garnered many well deserved awards for the quality of its programming, but I propose that maintaining coverage, daily and emergency, for all of us is more important at this time than winning more awards. If you agree, please let MPBN know you opinion.
Cuts hit hospitals hard
What difference does it make if MPBN shuts down its towers in Calais and Fort Kent thus leaving Washington and Aroostook counties without an emergency broadcast system if the institutions that deal with those emergencies also are shut down because of ill-conceived state funding cuts?
In a move that received less media attention, the governor two weeks ago reduced Medicaid reimbursements to hospital-based physicians. Because the majority of patients seeking care at Maine’s rural hospitals are either Medicaid or Medicare patients, this cut will have a profound effect on services and programs. In fact, it may mean hospitals no longer will be able to afford to employ physicians whose specialties serve Medicaid patients.
At Down East Community Hospital where almost 75 percent of our patients are covered by either Medicare of Medicaid, these costs will mean between $800,000 and $900,000 in reduced reimbursements, and I would say that the losses will be the same or worse for Maine’s other rural hospitals. The larger urban hospitals won’t feel this loss of revenue as much because a smaller percentage of their patients are covered by Medicaid.
I believe in difficult economic times all programs and institutions funded by the state should feel some of the pain, but Maine’s hospitals have been Gov. Baldacci’s perennial whipping boys. Losing $800,000 in reduced hospital-based physician reimbursement is one thing, but additionally the state is still behind in settling Medicaid cost reports going back four years. The 39 hospitals in Maine are owed more than $300 million in unpaid Medicaid cost report settlements; Down East Community Hospital is owed almost $6 million of this $300 million. This one-two punch will force some rural hospitals either to close or to become little more than Band-Air stations.
Before solving MPBN’s problems, I encourage the governor and the Legislature to take steps to ensure the viability of Maine’s rural hospitals. I also encourage Maine’s rural residents to talk with hospital trustees and administrators to learn as much as possible about the precarious position these cuts and delayed (or nonexistent) payments have put their hospitals in.
Walter N. Plaut Jr.
Down East Community Hospital trustee
Shoes, not guns
Is William Chapman kidding (“Double standard?” BDN letters, Dec. 26)? Does he really think that publicly betting someone will be murdered constitutes “freedom of speech”?
I know many people who would like to throw shoes at George W. Bush, but none of us (I hope) wish to murder him. Bush, with his senseless political agenda, has brought our country to the brink of disaster. It will take years of good management and honest politics to bring us back. Bush and his ilk should be ashamed for what they have done.
Jan. 20 will bring a new and better time in America.
John W. Graf
An article in the Dec. 25 paper, “Two dogs kill sheep,” caught my attention.
According to the article, two large unregistered dogs “escaped” from the Belfast home of Gerry Hendricks and proceeded to maul three sheep that bled to death. The dogs then reportedly went to another property and attacked a cow. The detective involved added that there was no history with these dogs. They could go home, and he said they “were not a menace to the community.” Does a child have to be maimed or killed before the dogs become a menace?
MPBN: Spread cuts
I would like to comment on the Dec. 27 BDN OpEd by David Morse, a vice president for MPBN (“Don’t tune out MPBN when the money gets tight”). In discussing elimination of programming specific to Maine, he states that “the only other option would be to eliminate [programs] … actions that we would consider to be an abdication of our responsibility to keep the residents of Maine informed about what is happening in their state.”
So where is the responsibility to the people in Washington County? When did we become nonresidents of Maine? Has the organization considered a cutback across the counties that would be equitable for all residents?
I am a contributing MPBN radio and television member and have been for many years. It will be a difficult decision when it comes renewal time next September.
Drilling for knowledge
Rep. John Martin’s comments against drilling for oil in the Gulf of Maine because he wants to protect the Maine coast reflect his ignorance on the topic.
First, as a geologist, I know that there is almost no chance that oil exists in the Gulf of Maine; our granite and associated high-temperature-pressure rocks do not host petroleum. There may be gas under the sediments of Georges Bank, but “gas spills” hardly threaten coastlines.
Further, Martin’s ludicrous comment that “if you let them drill at all, they will want to drill everywhere” flies in the face of reality. It costs a great deal to drill for oil and the selection of a site is careful in the extreme. Only highly probable locations are ever drilled, and there are none in Maine state waters.
It bothers me that someone in an important position such as Rep. Martin would speak on a topic he obviously knows nothing about.
Joseph T. Kelley