March 6 Letters to the Editor

Posted March 05, 2010, at 6:46 p.m.

Health care fixes

My husband’s health insurance is mandatory; if he wants his job, he must buy into their plan. We were given a list of doctors that we could see; no choice. The deductible is high and the cost just went up.

The insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, lobbyists and some politicians have proven they are more interested in their own “wealth care” than our health care and can’t be trusted. So wouldn’t it make sense to keep our health care dollars close to home and out of their hands? Here are some ideas.

Expand the tax exempt Health Savings Account for everyone. What you now pay to insurance instead would go to your HSA at your own bank, which I suppose would increase that bank’s lending power to the area helping small business thrive. Base deductibles using factors like age, lifestyle choices, earnings, how many children, etc., [and] allow these deductibles to be held in a special account at the medical practice you choose. The interest could help keep smaller practices open.

There should still be pools so people can purchase supplemental insurance in a fair and competitive market. And there is no good argument for not buying medical devices and drugs from other countries.

Of course, if our Senate would rather, we’ll take what they have. Only fair, right?

Jill Cross

Sandy Point

Patient responsibility

At a meeting for state health administrators, legislators and concerned health care providers last week hosted by the Maine Medical Association and its legislative committee, there was lively discussion of how to improve the provision and lower costs of health care in Maine. Since much of the talk at such gatherings is usually focused more on issues of accounting than the clinical interaction between patient and provider, it was heartening to hear aspects of this important latter issue discussed. However, often lost in such coverage of “the patient-provider relationship” is the relationship of the patient to her or himself.

To really improve health and reduce costs, there needs to be change in the still quite maternalistic expectations underlying current medical practice. Resourceful, responsible Mainers learn to leave these adaptive personal characteristics at the door on entering the often intimidating world of the clinicians’ office. As any nurse practitioner or primary care doctor will confirm, enormous savings could accrue by greater patient participation, broadly defined, in their care.

Currently such interventions are modestly practiced in the private sector and include financial incentives for patients’ being more responsible for all aspects of their health. And this includes more than change in personal habits and lifestyle, as all important as this would be.

This approach will require, among other things, more client education on the front end of clinical interaction and can cost effectively be introduced, not by clinicians who currently are too harried to do so effectively themselves.

Rob Struba

Belfast

Inconvenient truths

A March 2 BDN op-ed column by Paul Williamson, coordinator for the Maine Wind Industry Initiative (“Wind power has already created new jobs, revenues”) cited “misinformation” put forth by critics offering the “facts” to the Maine people. Unfortunately this opinion article is largely devoid of indisputable facts, written by a highly biased voice with vested interests.

Propaganda, more resembling paid advertising than public information, is the modus operandi of this industry. Cursory dismissal of opponents is followed by talking points: “opponents cite adverse health effect studies which have absolutely no acceptance in the medical field in Maine.”

Reference to a link to the Maine CDC is provided as verification. The Maine CDC has ignored pleas from within the medical field in Maine as well as international studies demonstrating adverse impact, instead relying solely on outdated and industry sponsored data.

Williamson credits Stetson I with adding $50 million to Maine’s economy through job creation — jobs almost entirely paid by the government — your taxes. Stetson I received $40.4 million in federal grant money simply for completion.

He cites the need for wind development to lure turbine manufacturing jobs. His rationale, as stated, is that “regional demand” must be created to attract these industries. Manufacturing jobs migrate to industry friendly locations. Turbine installations will not create that atmosphere. Yet another red herring.

Williamson and other proponents of wind development need to abandon obfuscation and address the real facts, including those that prove inconvenient to their goals.

Brian Raynes

Oakfield

Nukes are a liability

I was pleased to read former Senate President Beth Edmonds’ op-ed column (BDN, Feb. 22) about Vice President Biden’s speech at the National Defense University on Feb. 18. Biden sounded the right note when he stated that our national security policies are not about promoting war, but about preserving peace, and noted “we must not underestimate how proliferation to a state could destabilize regions critical to our security and prompt neighbors to seek nuclear weapons of their own.” Nuclear weapons are a liability in today’s world.

The administration is right to do all it can to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to secure and reduce the outrageous numbers still held by the U.S. and Russia. The simple truth is that the more nukes there are, the greater the risk they will fall into the wrong hands, and the greater the tragedy.

Two vital, simple treaties will soon come before the U.S. Senate: START requires the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) prevents other countries from testing new nuclear weapons.

I urge Sens. Snowe and Collins to do all they can to support and ratify these treaties, which will make us safer, plain and simple.

Mary Cathcart

Orono

Be brave for change

A perfect health care bill can never exist. What matters now is to pass the bill that has been crafted and to take advantage of this unique moment to make a profound difference for our fellow Americans. It is our responsibility, our duty.

Very simply, now is the time for the wiser Americans to be brave and stand up for the change we have voted for and the change we need.

Not acting is cowardice.

Jim Owen

Hope

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