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Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011: Homelessness, sexual predators and health insurance


Don’t ignore real suffering

I found Bangor City Solicitor Norm Heitmann’s response to homeless Conrad Cook of Occupy Bangor disheartening (“After Occupy, Bangor to Redefine Policies,” BDN, Dec. 7). Conrad reportedly asked what the purpose of a park is and why tents can’t remain up for more than three days. Norm reportedly responded that parks are for recreational opportunities for residents, and tents can infringe on others’ ability to enjoy the park.

As a working resident of Bangor who was within days of being homeless twice this past fall, I believe it’s time for city councils to wake up to the reality of the economy. When you have food, shelter and a cushion of money it is easy to ignore the very real suffering going on right in front of you.

Conrad Cook, despite being homeless, took time to attend the workshop, an attempt at using legal means to affect policies. It shows lack of caring to talk to a homeless individual about the recreational enjoyment needs of residents without some discussion of the survival needs of the homeless, many of whom work. Bangor has set aside land for a dog park.

I would like to challenge city councilors to set a standard for other cities to emulate in planning to meet the needs of all if the economy does not improve. Let’s be voted the most humane city.

The consequences of not planning for increasing poverty will ripple outward. It is not as though the poor have not been trying to inform the wealthy of how dire our circumstances are becoming.

Heather Estey


Sexual predators

Thank you to Dr. Erik Steele for speaking up about his experience of being sexually abused (BDN Dec. 8). Most probably, his story will make other victims of the “favorite high school teacher” feel relieved: they are not alone with the burden of painful memories of betrayal.

Dr. Steele should please go to the police and fill out an affidavit expressing his complaint, giving the name of the abuser, the dates and the circumstances and send a copy to the school he was attending at that time. He should do so even if the abuse occurred 50 years ago. Sexual predators often continue to abuse even in their old age. His complaint will help others to “contain” the behavior of a potentially dangerous individual.

Robert Gossart

Salisbury Cove

Right choices for state

I am more confident than ever that our state government will make the right budgetary decisions. Officials have noticed from the declining tax revenue that we are all struggling and raising taxes or taking on more debt will only cripple us more. They are aware that we find spending more than we have and robbing Peter to pay Paul unacceptable. The last election is proof of that.

Why are some unhappy that the final decisions must come down to assigning priorities and simple arithmetic? That is how each of us conducts our personal finances. We are fortunate that for the first time in a long while, government must and will live within our means. The efficiency gains that result from finally facing reality will benefit all of us for many years to come.

Some believe we must all travel to Augusta, make a ruckus, phone and email officials in order for them to assign priorities correctly. Honestly, if our officials can be badgered one way or another then we have the wrong people in Augusta. I think almost anyone, especially our elected officials, are capable of assigning priority for spending limited taxpayer resources. If not, then we will get them more help at the next election, but for now everyone should stay out of their way and let them get to it.

John Field


Single-payer now

Hypocrisy. The mantra of the Republican Party at all levels of government is to cut spending and reduce or eliminate government involvement in health care.

In Washington and Augusta Republicans scream to cut Medicare and Medicaid and overturn Obamacare. At the same time, members of the U.S. House and Senate enjoy lavish health care paid for by taxpayers. Maybe the Republican majority in the U.S. House can save taxpayer money and get the government out of health care by eliminating this benefit for themselves.

In Augusta, the Republicans control both the Senate and the House. These part-time legislators are entitled to comprehensive health insurance — our elected representatives are part-time workers entitled to full-time health insurance at taxpayer expense.

This is also true in Washington County. The three Republican county commissioners are entitled to full-time health insurance. Commissioners hold public meetings once or twice a month. They are part-time civil servants, yet they are entitled to full-time health insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

If our elected representatives, including the part-time ones, receive taxpayer-funded health insurance, where’s the logic that everyone else should be left out in the cold? However, instead of ending health insurance for the few who are elected, everyone should receive government-provided health insurance. If this is done with a single-payer system where the doctors are paid for results and not for tests the cost would be affordable. Instead of paying insurance companies to deny claims, providers would be paid and all would be insured.

Wayne A. Peters

Roque Bluffs

LePage’s health care hurts

Remember the health care reform bill the Legislature passed last spring? How would premiums increase for the people who aren’t in a group? Well, it turns out that there is hardly any limit on premium increases with the new law.

My wife is 61, lives on Deer Isle (adds 9.4 percent to cost), and went from a two-person group to just one (adds 10 percent to cost) because I made it to Medicare. Her Anthem policy is up for renewal and the premiums increased 76 percent. It comes to over $14,000 per year just for premiums.

When I asked the Bureau of Insurance to review the increase, they told me that the rate increase was not excessive, not unfairly discriminatory and did not violate the new law. Ouch.

Oh, did I also tell you that my wife suffers from Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disease? So the new law gives Anthem the right to cull out any people they would just as soon not insure for whatever reason. How can this be reasonable? If everyone is looking at a 76 percent increase, Anthem should be banned from the state. The problem is that it is for profit, and now there are no limits on that profit.

Thanks, Gov. LePage, for reforming health care. And you wonder why so many people are on Medicaid? Let the vulnerable people beware. You’re being thrown off the bus to lighten the load for the insurance companies while they line their pockets.

Jack Scott

Deer Isle

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