Both my parents suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. My dad is in a nursing home that costs $6,000 a month. My mom — still at home — gets four hours of help a week from the county, but that’s not enough to keep Dad with her, and soon will not be enough to keep her out of a nursing home. Their house is their modest nest egg that they worked their whole lives to acquire.
Many families face these same trials. But the health care reform legislation currently before Congress offers help. Included in the package of reforms is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which would provide cash payments to people needing help to live at home.
Other provisions of reform would expand Medicaid programs that aim to keep more people with long-term care needs at home, where most people would rather stay rather than in nursing homes, which are more expensive; and allow families to qualify for Medicaid while keeping more assets.
My mother is a stubborn Irish mom who tries to hide her illness rather than go to the doctor, where she’d receive a diagnosis that would cause her to, in her words, “spend my life away, everything we ever worked for. I’d rather die.” If Congress passes the current health-care reform legislation — with the support, I hope, of our two U.S. senators — my mom and millions of others may not have to face these awful choices.
Wise public spending?
A neighbor and I recently walked past the old Bangor police station on Court Street and wound up discussing the enormous sum of taxpayers’ money spent to build a new police station — and, more recently, a new courthouse.
As we all know, these are extremely difficult economic times and now more than ever, money should be spent in ways that give as high a return on investment as possible.
Many people have been asking, what was wrong with the old police station and the old courthouse? Something so wrong that it made it absolutely necessary to spend more than $40 million on constructing new buildings?
And how is it that millions can be found to construct buildings that handle the end result of criminal matters, and yet, when money is needed for programs that focus on where the problems begin — people at risk of becoming part of the criminal justice system — there’s no money to be found.
More thought and planning is needed to decide where taxpayer money is spent. Spending extravagant sums of money for buildings that process criminals while slashing budgets of programs designed to help prevent-reduce the situations where the crime problem begins is not logical.
Buy Maine bargains
I would like to add my own thoughts to Anthony Anderson’s Dec. 14 article, “Consider Maine art as meaningful Christmas gift,” about buying fine arts and crafts in Maine for the holidays. While I totally agree that Maine has many wonderfully talented artisans, I do not share his belief that a fine piece of art or craft might have to be in the price range of $150 to $500.
To the contrary, there are countless unique arts and crafts objects available for far below those prices. So, to all those economically challenged shoppers who are looking for a fine arts or crafts gift made in Maine, do not despair, but visit your local arts and craft fairs and holiday markets.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the range of fine pottery, photography, jewelry and countless other beautiful handmade Maine gifts being offered at very reasonable prices.
While they may not all qualify as heirlooms, they will certainly fulfill many of the other reasons to purchase Maine-made gifts that Mr. Anderson lists.
What’s not to celebrate?
A large photo of the smiling Sens. Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of the BDN. Why are they so happy? Allow me to venture a guess. They are anticipating the passage of the so-called health care reform legislation now before the Congress.
And they are exuberant at their success in protecting the interests of their masters; i.e. big money, big pharma, big insurance and big medical conglomerates. Guess who loses? The American people or at least the average Joe or Jane. And the largest financial ripoff in the entire history of humankind rolls merrily along, trampling the sick and the dying beneath its wheels.
Doesn’t it want to make you join Susan and Joe in their celebration?
Free hugs snubbed
In this age of social disconnectedness and lack of human contact, a simple hug is all most people need to put a smile on their face.
On Dec. 12, many Unity college students from various clubs walked the halls of the Bangor Mall, only to be asked to turn our shirts inside out and exit the building. Out of curiosity, we asked why. The response was short: “It’s against mall policy to hug people inside.” Our T-shirts featured the words, “Free Hugs.”
We had come for one simple reason — to show people that there are still those who love them, even though we did not know them.
After leaving the mall, only giving three hugs and the occasional handshake, the group went to Wal-Mart where we were welcomed with open arms.
In total, over 200 hugs were given to those who were open to the idea, many smiles were passed along and exchanges of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” were echoing through the aisles. As we left, we felt a warm sense of accomplishment, and gratitude. Many people said, “You made my day,” but what they didn’t realize was they had made ours.
I find it extremely sad that in this day and age, one human cannot simply hug another, because of policy. Christmas is such a rushed time of money, gifts and glitter, but we were offering a simple, free embrace. Is that so bad?
Some jobs program
Let’s see, a hundred or so prisoners at Guantanamo are to be moved.
Why? Oh, to create about 3,000 jobs, according to CBS, to modify and staff an already state-of-the-art but under-utilized prison in Illinois. In the past this might have been seen as outlandish. Today, it is just normal operating procedure.