Sept. 19, Letters to the Editor

Posted Sept. 18, 2009, at 6:08 p.m.

Opportunity lost

How can a speech given by the president of the United States to students focusing on the importance of education be considered a “significant distraction”? I find it difficult to reconcile the apparent paradox in this thinking.

This nation is at a potential crossroads. Fear abounds about our place in a dynamic, ever-changing world. Are we falling behind other countries?

Are we relinquishing our cherished position as an example to other nations? These are valid concerns that must be considered.

Education is the key to our future. It is that simple. It would be difficult to argue against the passion that this president invoked in a substantial number of young people. Why would those responsible for educating our children not run with that passion? Shine the spotlight on him as he tries to inspire them to value their education and its utility not just to them, but humankind as a whole.

Parents may choose to manifest their own personal agendas by taking a vital, nonpolitical issue and painting it in partisan terms. But it is the responsibility of educators to find a way to support and catalyze the potential effect of the message. Ultimately, it is just a speech. But can we truly afford to lose any opportunity to stress the value of education and the incalculable benefits it bears?

Jason Horr

Brewer

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Mental health parity

One item that I have heard little discussion about in the health care reform debate is parity for mental health diagnoses. The insurance reimbursement to mental health providers (psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed counselors) is absurdly low, often set at “50% of the fee, or $25, whichever is lower.” (Emphasis added.) Lifetime coverage maximums for both inpatient and outpatient care are severely limited. This comes under the chapter on health care rationing in my book.

The newer drugs, especially those still under patent, are very expensive, much more expensive than the older drugs, but on the whole have fewer dangerous side effects. Insurance companies limit use of the newer drugs by having a formulary (a list of drugs they are willing to cover) or by limiting the dosage they will cover. Co-pays are higher for the newer drugs.

I see this from both sides of the counter, so to speak. I am a pharmacist whose clinical specialty is working with the mentally ill. I am also a consumer of mental health services.

Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for information on mental illness and to see how you can help: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 100, Arlington, VA 22203, 703-524-7600 or on-line at www.nami.org.

JoDee Creighton

Bangor

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Burned by music?

I have to surmise from his Sept. 2 OpEd, “Music can do a number on a child,” that Mark Steinberg must be a bitter person. It is hard to believe, as he implies, that his musical education was that agonizing and all his teachers were evil, humorless or incompetent. Even fellow musicians are unflatteringly called brilliant nerds.

Music has always been an important part of my life. For the past 30 or so years, I have taught music to upper elementary students and seen the joy it brings them. Some of those very students have continued on to become very, very successful in the field.

It is sad that Mr. Steinberg has not experienced any of those joys music offers. With his article making him the victim and every musical individual he came in contact with wrong, Mark Steinberg certainly must be a very bitter person.

Jim Paton

Carmel

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Affordable health

We grew up in Jackman and when my sister and friends were no longer covered by our parents or school insurance, Planned Parenthood was often our only access to affordable health.

Readily available access to health care, including affordable access to a full range of reproductive choices through local centers like Planned Parenthood, also instills in us the sense that our health and lives, as women, matter – this sense, too, is crucial for us to grow to be strong women.

Today, one in four women who receive contraceptive care does so at a women’s health center. One in six who obtain a Pap test or a pelvic exam does so at a women’s health center, as do one-third of women who receive counseling, testing or treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. This basic health care is essential, particularly during difficult economic times, to give women the tools they need to protect and support their families. This is particularly true when you consider that women of childbearing age spend a remarkable 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men, in part because of reproductive health-related needs.

Protecting community health providers in any national health care reform is fundamental to solving provider access issues that will come with expanding coverage and ensuring Americans can access trusted providers wherever they live. Under health care reform, women must have access to reproductive health care and their women’s health provider. Women cannot be worse off after health care reform than they are today.

Farah Paradise

Jackman

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LaMarche angry

I try to read all of the editorials and columns printed in the paper. However, lately it’s become increasing difficult to get through one of Pat LaMarche’s weekly condescending condemnations of Americans and all things American.

Now apparently she is not directing her attacks against me personally as she always describes her villains as “right wingers.” You see, I’m not a wingman. I try to stay in the fuselage of the plane, as I view extremism as intolerant and I choose to tolerate others. Nonetheless, after the first paragraph or two, Pat’s writings morph into the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher; wah-wah-wah-wah.

We get it, Pat. War is bad. Homelessness is bad. But even Ms. LaMarche must acknowledge that there will be wars until the end of time. And the poor will always be with us.

Mind you, I appreciate her work for the homeless, although I must confess I have not purchased her book. Seventy-five cents is all I’m willing to pay to be chewed out. Yet this letter is not written to complain about Pat, but to offer her a little free advice. Lighten up a little bit. All that hatred must be eating you alive. The utopia you seek will not be found on this earth.

I’m not saying you should abandon your search for the perfect world.

Just understand that it is not coming anytime soon. And your anger will not help us get there.

Jeff Davis

Stockton Springs

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