In Washington, the health care reform bill lumbers along, barely able to move, because the legislative shackles have rendered our democracy “out of order.” Will anything ever actually happen to help Americans achieve their right to quality health care? At the moment it seems in doubt.
In the meantime, we have our own health insurance drama right here in Maine. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has been denied its requested 23 percent hike, this, after already receiving a 10 percent increase last year. So, Anthem has the chutzpah to sue the state of Maine, in spite of record profits that top $3 billion.
Concurrently, legislative hearings have been held in Augusta regarding a proposed bill to remove caps on insurance company payouts. Of course, Anthem threatens premium increases if the bill goes through.
The Supreme Court rules that corporations are “persons” under the law. I guess I held out hope that their “personhood” included a conscience.
When I used to count ballots, it was always fascinating to me how few people in my district voted party line. It seems we have in Maine fierce pride in our independence, and an openness to vote for candidates, not political machines.
I am deeply troubled to see how our federal government has stalled into a partisan quagmire. I have been impressed by how we in Maine elect both Republicans and Democrats, having faith that they will work in the best interest of all of us, but it is appearing to me that it has become a thing of the past.
Sen. Olympia Snowe will at least talk to the Democrats, but one vote to let a bill out of committee does not seem like much to me.
A united Republican Party set solely on undermining the other party doesn’t help the people of Maine. We need action, and we need a government that is willing to act and move forward, even if slowly and imperfectly.
We need health care, bank regulations, election reform and jobs. We elected our senators to represent all of us here in Maine, not simply the Republican Party agenda or special interests.
I am seeing too many people without insurance or jobs getting sicker and poorer and in great need. Maybe delaying and waiting for a perfect bill might bring about something better, but it might also cease any action at all. We need help, please.
Rev. Peter Jenks
Belfast Civic Center
I’ve been living in the Belfast area for a few years now. I work, shop, entertain and am entertained in Belfast. I feel invested here. So I’ve gotten involved in planning for the Belfast Civic Center.
Granted, I realize that since I’m a performer myself and hang out with a lot of artistic types, it looks selfish to want more performance space.
The truth is that I want something bigger for the city: a hub, a hive, around which all things may spring to life. What I envision is a place for all of us — artists, yes, but churchgoers, craftspeople, hipsters, midwives, health care practitioners, politicians, body workers, boat builders and bridge clubs — to congregate, close to home. The Belfast Civic Center could be this place.
I think bringing outside groups to town isn’t out of the question. We could have economic summits, ecumenical gatherings, miniconventions of physicists and knitters, food expos, weddings, variety shows and bluegrass festivals.
It might not happen right away, but over a period of time this civic center will result in lasting job growth for Belfast: more shops, restaurants, hotels and bed & breakfasts; bigger industry; and more folks than ever, from all walks of life, discovering for the first time what has been here all along.
That’s what I see, when I work toward making the Belfast Civic Center happen. Not a civic center as a merely artistic outlet, but a civic center as a place for all of us. We need this. It’s time.
Remember the elderly
I read the story about 99-year-old Louise Carter (BDN, Feb. 12) with great admiration but also with great concern.
Maine’s elderly possess the highest work ethic and are such a proud group of people that they often refuse to ask for help from anyone and then do their best to deal with the consequences. As the Legislature debates how to close the budget deficit, I hope they consider people like Louise who require just a small amount of help to remain independent.
The governor’s budget would severely cut services that help keep people at home — services that cost considerably less than the alternative of paying for them to live in nursing homes. These are the people that have the potential to fall through the cracks if home care services are cut in Maine.
While I have no doubt Louise would do her best to find a way to get by, God love her, I’m not sure all who depend on these services would fare so well. Moreover, I would hope the state would work to make sure Louise wouldn’t have to go back to the way things were.