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Friday, July 22, 2011: Medicaid cuts, patient care, nation’s debt

Medicaid cuts shortsighted

I applaud the sophisticated thinking behind the editorial, “Third piece of debt debate: new revenue,” (July 15). However, no discussion of the debt ceiling debate would be complete without acknowledging how programs that face cuts — like Medicaid — would leave employees and employers worse off.

I am a small business owner who is thankfully able to afford private health insurance for full-time staff. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to insure part-time workers who may be caring for family members. From my vantage point, Medicaid has been a lifeline for these workers, covering basic health services and treatment for them and-or their sick family members.

It would be bad for their productivity and our local economy to decimate this critical program for short-term political gain.

Halcyon Blake

Patient prescription

Dr. Erik Steele’s column prescribing patient co-piloting in hospital care is excellent theory. Practice is another matter.

Recently my granddaughter began asking if I had washed my hands (yes) and about expiration dates. As a person who elevates care to “professional grandparent,” I felt challenged and then annoyed at the repeat questions. Of course I practiced great care.

Then I considered a hospital stay where I might see the same nurse many times a day and repeatedly ask that professional to wash hands, speak my name and check my wristband for my ID.

I have read studies, in the BDN, of hospital professionals like doctors believing they had washed their hands when they hadn’t. In order to avoid someone else’s error, a patient must manage his own care while trying to get well. Would this work or would the sick person become intimidated? Do professional health care people sign on to Dr. Steele’s program?

While pondering this, I’ll tell my granddaughter she’s right.

Leslie Woods

Creative thinking

On Aug. 2, the United States government has to stop borrowing money.

Right now, one third of the money Uncle Sam spends is borrowed money. Here’s what could happen after Aug. 2. If you are expecting a check for Social Security, or your military paycheck, or whatever, say for $100, you will get one for $66.

That won’t get the U.S. living within its means, for two reasons. First, there are expenses to cover at full price, from federal office electric bills to national debt interest. Second, when millions of people see their federal income cut by one third, they will have to cut their spending, further depressing the economy, further reducing federal tax revenue.

So what else can the U.S. do to break even? Let’s brainstorm. Ask your readers to send ideas.

Here are a few to get us going.

Stop paying salary and benefits to the president and members of Congress.

Limit all federal construction projects to repair of existing facilities. Stop building anything new: museums, battleships, fighter jets. We can’t afford to use or maintain them anyway.

Put a hold on all research projects. We often don’t use the knowledge we already have.

End all deployments to overseas military bases, there are about 700. As tours of duty end, bring personnel home. Last one out turn off the lights, lock the door and put up a “For Sale” sign.

We need more ideas than these. Let’s get to it. Time is running out.

David Paul Henry

Enough rights

Mr. Gene Clifford, in his July 19 Letter to the Editor, bemoans the fact that FDR’s “2nd Bill of Rights” is in tatters. I am not unhappy about this outcome. Consider the following “guaranteed” scenarios.

There will be a “body” that assures and assigns all the following “guaranteed” rights will be the biggest monopoly you ever saw and you would be helplessly at it mercy in all aspects of your life otherwise any individual act might infringe on someone’s rights and thus cannot be allowed.

Job and living wage? Since we might all want to be CEO of Microsoft and be compensated accordingly, the “body” might assign us to cleaning urinals in the local bus station and be compensated accordingly.

Housing? You would be assigned one for the same reason as above. I doubt it would be Bill Gates’ home. A little room in the bus station would be adequate for their urinal cleaner.

Medical care? I am sure there would be very good care for “body” members. The rest of us would have adequate care as long as we were “useful” to said body and could clean the urinals efficiently.

Education? Only enough to allow you to perform your assigned job. Why would you need to read and write if your job was cleaning urinals?

Social Security? Why would you need any? Aren’t all your “needs” covered by the “2nd Bill of Rights?”

Jim Miller

Good partnership

I have been director of the Washington County Food and Fuel Alliance for the past three years and managing the Food Pantry Network. Washington County is the poorest county in Maine with 20 percent of the population needing food assistance compared to 13 percent in Maine and 14 percent in the U.S. Our primary focus is to bring additional food resources into the county.

One significant way we have increased food supplies at our food pantries has been through the growing relationship and trust we have with the Good Shepherd Food-Bank. We want to thank Good Shepherd for bringing its mobile food truck to Washington County, giving free food to over 185 families. This represents 7,000 pounds of food including frozen meat and fish, canned goods, baked goods, fresh produce and much more. In addition, two of our food pantries received $500 from the Maine Credit Union League with Good Shepherd as their partnership agency.

Another way Good Shepherd is instrumental in bringing additional food into the county is through its program of inviting business to give grants designated to food pantry accounts at Good Shepherd. Over the years, a number of our food banks have benefited from this program.

Our partnership with the Good Shepherd Food Bank is one of the most important and productive partnerships we have in Washington County to feed the hungry. Only by working together can we make a lasting difference.

Gini King

What about Bangor?

Congratulations to the folks at Penobscot Community Health Center and the Brewer School Department for securing the federal grant ($234,862) to continue the important job started five years ago in Brewer’s two school-based health clinics (BDN, July 16). Offering onsite, quality, dental and mental health care at their school leads to better academic outcomes.

Where does the Bangor School Committee stand on pursuing the same for our students? How about a response from the school board?

Paul Ouellette

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