ClickBack on Reform, Flu

Posted Sept. 07, 2009, at 6:47 p.m.

This week, ClickBack seeks editorial page reader comments on health care reform, H1N1 vaccination, the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. To participate, go to bangordailynews.com and select ClickBack from the Opinion menu.

What should health reform look like?

Congress will be back in session this week and health care will likely top the agenda. What should health care reform include? Universal coverage? How would this be done — through mandates that everyone have health insurance or through tax credits to both employers and individuals? Should reform include a public option? Should it be triggered only if competition among insurance companies doesn’t lower costs and increase the number of people with insurance?

How should changes be paid for? Tax increases on the wealthy? Cuts in Medicare and other government-run health care programs? Or will savings in the system cover the costs?

Swine flu shots at school?

Last week, Gov. John Baldacci declared a statewide civil emergency because of the H1N1 influenza virus, paving the way for mass immunization of Maine schoolchildren and other residents. The emergency designation protects schools and health care providers against liability claims related to their participation in school-based vaccine clinics this fall for both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Should schools provide H1N1 vaccinations or should this be left to family doctors? What about families that are concerned about the potential side effects of shots?

Should the U.S. leave Afghanistan and Iraq — soon?

Washington Post columnist George Will wrote last week that U.S. troops should soon depart both Afghanistan and Iraq because their work is done and it is up to the government and military in both countries to take over the work of nation building and securing their citizens. Is he right? Where does this leave the expected request from the top U.S. general in Afghanistan for more U.S. troops to combat the Taliban there? Do U.S. troops leave even if the situation deteriorates? What lessons do these two wars offer for future U.S. intervention?

What can DHHS stop doing?

The head of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services last week told members of the Appropriations Committee that her agency could not trim program any further. Instead, entire programs would have to be eliminated to shrink the department’s budget, one of the two largest in state government. As Rep. David Webster, D-Freeport, noted, all of DHHS’ programs were created for a reason. With that in mind, what services should it stop offering? What should not be cut? Who should get top priority — the elderly, children, the poor, those with disabilities? Or are such choices a sign that taxes should be raised to preserve needed services?

Share your thoughts at bangordailynews.com. As always, some comments made at ClickBack may be featured on Friday’s OpEd page.

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