BANGOR, Maine — About 50 area residents filled the conference room and spilled out into the lobby of the Penquis agency on Harlow Street on Monday to rally against proposed cuts to the MaineCare program and the Department of Health and Human Services budget.
“It was standing room only,” said Ilze Petersons, program coordinator for the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine.
Jean Bridges, child development director at the private, nonprofit Penquis agency, talked about the harm cuts would have on programs such as the Head Start and pre-Head Start preschool and child care programs.
“The loss of Head Start programs, and the jobs lost from them if they’re cut, are of particular concern,” said Petersons. “Those budget savings won’t really be savings, as people on MaineCare who may lose their health care benefits will have to use other services like emergency calls and make more visits to hospitals.”
Several speakers at the press conference urged Maine residents to contact their representatives and senators about the proposed cuts.
“I believe in shared sacrifice, but to me, this is not shared sacrifice,” said Old Town resident Avery Olmstead, an activist. “To be blunt, if these cuts are enacted, I truly feel that many people who are elderly and/or disabled will die as a result.”
MaineCare is Maine’s version of the federal Medicaid program.