Though I am a registered Democrat I have always thought of Sen. Snowe as a compassionate, caring legislator. I was proud that she alone among her Republican brethren was taking an active role in the debate over health care reform. She has consistently shown her concern for her constituents.
I do not understand her objection to the inclusion of a “public option” in health insurance reform legislation. As I understand it, the bill from the Senate Finance Committee requires that people buy a health insurance plan if they are not currently insured. How can we force people to buy a health insurance plan from companies on which there is no price control?
That is clearly unfair.
Competition has to be established, and a strong “public option” would provide that competition.
Why the opposition?
It’s surprising to me that there’s so much controversy about offering a public insurance option in the new health care system being crafted by Congress. Tens of millions of Americans — those over 65 and many people with disabilities — already use a public insurance plan called Medicare. Our veterans receive publicly-funded medical care, as do our lower-income friends and neighbors. So why should other Americans — people not covered by insurance at work, and the owners of small businesses — not have access to a nonprofit, public-insurance offering, as just one of several options in the insurance exchanges being created by the new health care legislation?
Public universities coexist with private ones, and the U.S. Postal Service delivers packages right alongside UPS and FedEx. Why can’t we have public and private insurance plans?
It’s true that a public plan would not have to pay dividends to shareholders, big salaries to executives or in general worry about pleasing Wall Street. But that fact would lead to lower premiums for policyholders and eliminate the incentive to deny needed care — two desirable outcomes.
A public health-insurance option is a sensible, mainstream answer to providing low-cost, quality health care to millions of Americans who now lack it. It should be included in any final health care reform legislation.
Mental health parity
Inequities in Maine’s mental health parity laws are another crack in the system. If you are lucky enough to get fully-funded health insurance from an employer with 21 or more employees, the state mandates parity. You can relax knowing that serious mental health conditions such as those listed in the law are covered no less extensively than physical illnesses.
But if you get insurance through an individual, small group, or self-insured plan, the insurer is only required to offer parity, i.e., make it available as an option at additional cost. In a recent quote from Anthem, monthly premiums with parity for a young adult ranged from $915, $15,000 deductible Health Choice; to $6,151, $250 deductible standard plan A.
The annual cost of these policies is more than most people’s annual salaries. Without the parity rider the included mental health coverage is subject to unrealistically meager annual (25 visits, $1,000) and lifetime limits ($25,000), as well as deductibles and unlimited co-insurance.
Options? Dirigo, with a waiting list of more than 2,000, is an affordable plan with parity but is not accepting new individual enrollees. A new federal parity law only applies to group health plans, including some self-insured plans, for employers with 51 or more employees.
These inequities are an insult to people with mental illness trying to purchase insurance in the private market. Assuming the brain is part of the body, most people would agree the listed conditions are as physical as any other bodily dysfunction, and should be covered as such.
Balanced, wrong term
I would like to both commend and criticize the BDN on its recent series of articles on guns in Maine. Most newspapers, the BDN included, are very anti-gun but the recently completed series was quite well-balanced and well-done.
My criticism is with the overused and incorrect term “gun show loophole.” There is no loophole at gun shows occurring in Maine or elsewhere. All federally licensed dealers and people buying from them must complete the proper paperwork and go through and pass the NICS check before buying a gun. The anti-gun people who use the term “gun show loophole” really mean banning private gun sales.
In Maine it is legal for private Maine residents to sell or trade firearms. This does sometimes occur at gun shows where gun enthusiasts gather. It also occurs out of the pages of Uncle Henry’s, the Bangor Daily News and in countless homes throughout Maine. If an anti-gun probation on private guns sales at gun shows were enacted, it would mean that all private sales of guns would stop. If this ever happens and you wanted to sell a gun to your neighbor, you would have to go through a federal dealer, and pay them a fee, and the buyer would have to pay Maine sales tax on the gun.
Stopping the gun show loophole is truly an attempt to stop private gun sales.
Don’t deny coverage
As a Christian, I can’t understand how a lot of churches take a stand against free health care for the poor. All three of the world’s major religions believe the poor and the sick are our responsibility. Why then can otherwise good people stand with conservatives who feel free health care is just too expensive? I cannot find in the Bible where the value of money is greater than someone’s health. Jesus never turned away anyone who asked to be healed. Isn’t he our example?
It seems the better educated people with nicer lifestyles are conning the poor, less educated people out of their deserved blessings. Eighteen thousand workers die yearly from lack of affordable health care. How many families send their mothers out to work just so they can have health insurance? This doesn’t happen in other civilized nations. Maybe this is why we have the highest percentage of our population of any nation in prisons.
I fear we are becoming a nation of dummies allowing the rich and educated to shirk their responsibilities to society. The insurance companies are spending $1 million a day to convince us that we don’t need national health care. Remember, the only tax increase is on people who earn more than $250,000 annually.
Is it the Republican Party, the insurance companies or the neglected people of Maine that Sens. Collins and Snowe actually represent?