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Aug. 5, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Malpractice maze

About 30 years ago, Maine legislators were afraid doctors would leave the state in great numbers because of rising premiums for medical malpractice insurance. The increases were thought to be caused mainly by bogus medical malpractice lawsuits, though it was never proved and actually there were many reasons rates were on the rise.

Panicky legislators reacted by making it nearly impossible for plaintiffs, even those with valid claims, to get fair trials. Before a case could get to trial, parties involved in medical malpractice cases would need to attempt mediation and argue their case before a panel of experts before a judge or jury could hear it. The supposed goal of such pre-litigation hearings was to encourage settlements. At first, either party could opt out of the mediation and proceed directly to trial; however legislators soon made the process mandatory.

Supreme courts of some states with laws similar to Maine’s regarding this have ruled that since the panel hearings delay a person’s right to trial, they are unconstitutional. The laws in Maine regarding medical malpractice lawsuits make it difficult for victims of medical malpractice to get a fair trial.

I’ve researched malpractice cases in Maine and found that judges are denying trials to plaintiffs with perfectly valid claims; my son is one of them. The Maine Health Security Act, or at least much of it, needs to be repealed.

You can read about my son’s case and the clearly unconstitutional laws at dirtydecisions.com <http://www.dirtydecisions.com/> under “older posts.”

Paula Michaud


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Medicare for all

In response to Sarah M. Menkin’s letter, “Terminal health care” (BDN, July 28), I would reply that for the past 10 yeas my husband and I have been covered by a very fine publicly funded health care program: Medicare. As we get older, we have more health care expenses. Medicare has paid for most of them. Medicare also negotiates with physicians, labs, and so on for lower fees. Medicare is a government-run health care program and it works well.

Before becoming eligible for Medicare we were covered by a private plan which worked only through an HMO. They denied my husband the X-ray which would have shown that he had a broken bone. Months later, because of continuing pain, the HMO finally permitted the X-ray, which showed the bone was healing out of place. The bone had to be rebroken before it could be set properly — a much riskier surgery, and much more expensive, than it would have been if that X-ray had been taken earlier.

The same private plan stopped a series of injections, halfway through, that my (diabetic) neighbor needed before traveling to a foreign country. Fortunately she was able to find a doctor who would give her the injections and she had a safe trip. Remember, we were paying for this private insurance.

When we tried to complain to the HMO, we were never able to get through to those in charge.

I hope all of us will be covered by a public plan like Medicare.

Beth Kidder

Bar Harbor

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Expect rationing

There is one thing we can be certain of in these uncertain times, if we are to believe the media. Medicare has been bloated from excessive waste and fraud to the point of bankruptcy in the near future. Baby boomers are lining up now for their fair share, and should our president have his way, not just the boomers, but every eligible person of any age or economic status may get in line with them.

So, if the past performance of this entitlement is so poor, what chance does such a fabulous overload of legitimate petitioners have in the future? Transparency? Regulation? No. Even a 9-year-old would get it; the only way to address too many is to give less to everybody: rationing, that is. Can reason come up with any other answer?

Didi Hundley


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National anthem

Regarding the July 31 BDN letter from Terrance E. Reynolds, which takes issue with the U.S. national anthem being played last at a local gaming facility: In spite of his family’s military history and his personal feelings on the matter, there is a long-established international protocol by which the precedence of the playing of multiple national anthems is determined.

In this particular case, “Like most elements of protocol, national anthems have rules. U.S. Navy Article 245, part C, gives us a few tips about how national anthems should be performed. It has been a long-standing practice to play the national anthem of a visitor before the anthem of the host nation.”

At the Senior Little League World Series, hosted in Bangor several times in recent history in which multiple nations were represented, during the opening ceremony the national anthem of each of the participating nations was played (in alphabetical order by each country’s English name), with the U.S. national anthem rightfully being reserved for last. Out of respect for each country’s anthem, the tradition of standing and “uncovering” (removing one’s hat, unless one is armed — such as members of an honor guard team) is observed.

The local activity is playing the anthems correctly, however much it upsets Mr. Reynolds or the solicited

Michael P. Gleason


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ATV irresponsibility

I read with a mix of horror and relief the July 21 story of the ATV accident involving a 5-year-old boy and his mother. As an ATV Mom myself, I fully understand how one can encounter the unexpected out on the trail, and I was thrilled to read that both mother and son suffered only minor injuries.

It was near the middle of the story, when it was revealed that neither the mother nor the child was wearing a helmet, that my feelings turned to rage and disgust. As an adult, the mother has the right to make that choice for herself, but why was the child not wearing a helmet? It boils down to nothing more than blatant irresponsibility, and they are lucky the child wasn’t killed.

This is just the latest ATV accident that we’ve seen recently involving poor judgment on the part of supposed adults, and I am wondering if any charges are going to be filed in these cases. Perhaps if those responsible started being held accountable for their lack of judgment, we wouldn’t be seeing so many of these senseless accidents.

Belinda Jamison


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