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June 23, 2009 Letters to the Editor

VA woes a warning?

After enduring the continual letters and OpEed pieces supporting what amounts to socialized medicine, I had about given up hope for the BDN.

The June 17 paper was no better. Add to the irritation that ABC News has capitulated and allowed President Obama free rein in its “newscasts” to run a public relations announcement under the guise of news coverage and it appeared traditional journalism was dead.

But then I turned to page A8 in the BDN and found “VA upbraided over botched colonoscopies.” Here is the consummate government-run health system, showing its true colors.

Stories of mishaps at VA centers are legion and anyone eager to join the Obama supporters to create a universal public health system should read that story and take heed.

John Hubbard


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‘Vitality, movement’

I have long intended to write to say the picture of catcher Emily Lenor printed in the May 13 edition of the BDN was the most perfect action photo I have ever seen. The energy and adrenaline of Emily’s focus on catching the ball, combined with the dust Micayla Hussey raised as she slid in to home plate gave the feeling of actually being there and witnessing this crucial moment.

Bridget Brown deserves high praise for capturing such vitality and movement.

Oliver Crosby


• • •

Rein in insurers

The Democrats again are sounding the trumpet of health care reform. These folks don’t get it; they didn’t have a clue back in the ’90s when Hillary Clinton tried to fix it, and now is no different. We don’t need health care reform, we need a complete overhaul of health insurance companies.

The Republicans oppose health care reform saying it should be between you and your doctor. I agree, however, as it stands now, it’s between you and your insurance company. Your doctor can tell you what needs to be done, but the insurance industry has the final word.

Being an insulin dependent diabetic can get extremely expensive, and my insurance company is no help. Because I was diagnosed with diabetes two days before my insurance began, I had to wait a full year before my “benefits” would kick in. Now it has been more than a year and still I am getting no help with doctor visits, lab work or medication.

I pay more than $200 a month for this “coverage” and I get no help. I would love to cancel, but then the “what if”? question comes up. What if I need an operation, or am in an automobile accident? It’s these questions that keep me paying.

Slavery is not over, it’s simply taken on a new face. Forget health care reform, let’s not make more problems that we can’t pay for. The insurance companies need to be reeled in, for it is they who have the power.

Mike Marshall


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Drug clarification

A recent BDN editorial, “Why Drugs Cost So Much,” is unfairly critical of the Medicare prescription drug program. The benefit is a clear success for America’s Medicare beneficiaries, evidenced by a recent Medicare Today survey that shows around 84 percent of beneficiaries enrolled in the program are satisfied with their prescription drug coverage.

The editorial also incorrectly states that health care reform is needed due to the cost of prescription medicines. Prescription drug spending reached a historic low of 4.9 percent in 2007, the lowest rate since 1963. Meanwhile, overall health care spending in 2007 grew at a rate of 6.1 percent. The decline in prescription drug spending accounted for more than half of the reduction in overall health care expenditures, CMS stated.

Additionally, America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies continue to make patients’ health our top priority. To that end, we are working on more than 800 new medicines to fight cancer.

America’s pharmaceutical research companies do not spend more on marketing than they do on vital research and development. In 2007, pharmaceutical companies invested $63.2 billion on R&D of new medicines, while spending around $11.5 billion on promotional activity directed to physicians, journal advertising and consumer advertising, according to IMS Health.

Ken Johnson

Senior Vice President


Washington, D.C.

• • •

Working women

Although the editorial “Summertime Blues” gave some very good advice for teens looking for summer employment, there was a very obvious omission.

This article quoted Nancy McKechnie of Bangor’s CareerCenter and the editorial writer related one piece of Ms. McKechnie’s advice as follows: “Networking is an important step, she says, which means putting the word out to neighbors, teachers, aunts and uncles, Dad’s co-workers and friends.” But what about Mom’s co-workers and friends?

This is either an innocent omission or an alarming one because of what it means for women and how they are valued in the work force. Women still lag behind their male counterparts in pay and top management positions. The statement did mention aunts so maybe it was an innocent omission but it still makes me wonder about the work left to be done in order for women to have equal status in the work force. I would call it “Women-still-working-for less blues.”

Karen Jo Young


• • •

Press freeze-out

What do you call a press conference when the press attends but refuses to publicize the event? No, that’s not a riddle. It’s a legitimate question. Last week, UMaine’s Bureau of Labor Education held a press conference on campus to call attention to the Employee Fair Choice Act now being debated in the U.S. Senate. It passed the House easily. The press conference was to urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to back the bill.

WABI-TV had a camera there, so I eagerly watched Channel 5 news that evening, but there was not one word about the press conference. I watched the morning news the next day — not one word. I combed the Bangor Daily News — not one word. I guess what you call a press conference that no one covers a labor-oriented press conference. If it were corporations denouncing the bill and depicting organizing workers as Mafia thugs, it would get plenty of coverage.

This bill is not about eliminating the secret ballot. It’s about making it easier for workers to organize so that it can be done faster and with less employer intimidation of workers. Yes, organizing workers are intimidated and often fired for their union efforts.

I also urge Snowe and Collins to back this bill, but we’re fighting an uphill battle when we can’t even get media coverage.

Cindy Carusi


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