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Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012: MaineCare, aging and same sex marriage

MaineCare facts

The budget shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services relating to MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program, has made headlines for months now. In that time we’ve seen and heard a lot of misleading information about the MaineCare program. As a longtime member of the state Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, I’d like to clarify a few facts to correct the record.

MaineCare is a health care program, not a welfare service. MaineCare provides health insurance and prescription drug coverage for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and the poor. Seventy percent of enrollees are children, seniors or individuals with disabilities. MaineCare payments go to hospitals and health care providers to pay for care, not directly into the pockets of eligible individuals.

Since 2006, the total funding for the MaineCare program has been largely flat despite a growth in enrollment and growth in the cost of health care. The cost of the program has increased by less than 10 percent in the last six years, while health care costs have grown at double the rate.

Growth in enrollment has largely been linked to the recession and from moving nearly 20,000 seniors and people with disabilities from a state-funded program into a prescription drug program funded through MaineCare, which is paid for with help from matching federal dollars.

The shortfall in DHHS was not caused by an increase of enrollment on the program. The cost of enrollment growth accounts for only 6.5 percent of the total projected shortfall.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo


Golden agreement

Thank you for publishing the Feb 8 Op-Ed by Richard Dudman, “The best decade of the golden years,” that includes facts and concepts that should be a required course in the curriculum of life.

As a 92-year-old, I could have coped better in the past year if I had followed Mr. Dudman’s advice for actions in the 70s and 80s instead of waiting until the truth of aging really hits and finding myself shouting angrily “Why didn’t somebody tell me?”

And he is so right about the many advantages that come to us as we age — it is not bad at all with caring family members and friends who make every day a blessing and a joy.

Katherine O. Musgrave


Not the same

Will Maine people again support the marriage institution that was started by the Jewish people 3,000 — more or less — years ago?

It is interesting that the phrase “to marry” has been put to use by others, such as by chefs and by builders. A builder may speak of marrying a coloring agent with cement. A chef may speak of marrying a flavor or a food coloring with a food.

In every such case, the marrying is of two very different things, as it has been for thousands of years with a man and woman. Same sex couples are, of course, not eligible for marriage. Really!

If they would not imitate heterosexuals they might be admired more. Leave marriage alone. Name your our relationship, maybe equality family, equality partnership, affair, etc.

If in a family setting same sex parents care for children it would be less confusing, more honest, if those children know you to be not married like men and women but different with your own relationship and name for it.

John Wescott


Romney’s navy numbers

in his appearance in Portland, Mitt Romney repeated his complaint that the U.S. Navy has fewer ships than it did in 1917. He never bothers to mention the tragic lack of cavalry horses, pack mules and carrier pigeons, also at all-time lows.

Mr. Romney clearly doesn’t understand naval warfare or naval procurement. There were no aircraft carriers in 1917, nor nuclear submarines. The 6th Fleet, with three carrier groups, probably had more firepower than the combined 1917 navies of Britain, Germany and the U.S. combined. And that doesn’t include the other eight carrier groups.

Whose navy would he rather we had? Who has a larger, more powerful navy? He insults all our naval personnel, not to mention our intelligence, with claims like this.

Robert R. O’Brien

Peaks Island

Not so efficient

I nearly spit out my coffee as I reached the next-to-last paragraph of the editorial “Wrong Choice” in the Feb. 10 BDN. It must have been the shock of seeing the words “socialism and efficiency” in the same sentence.

I look about for the “sarcasm” label. Finding none, I had to conclude that the editorialist had either a faulty understanding of history or a case of selective amnesia. Whichever the case, the column blithely overlooked the fact that the most massive example of state socialism — that of the former Soviet Union and its satellite minions — was a failure of epic proportions. The only reason soviet socialism survived for more than seven decades was through its oppressive apparatus for enforced compliance.

Stunning in its wrongheadedness is the column’s example of socialistic “efficiency” — one neighborhood latte shop taking the place of three. It raises many disturbing questions, including the following:

Who decides which of the three shops is chosen to stay in business, and what are the criteria used to make the determination?

Absent the competition from the neighborhood shops, what is the incentive for the remaining shop to maintain a high quality of product and service?

What happens to the now unemployed owners and staff of the defunct latte shops?

Just asking.

David Dean


LePage is right

I was very offended by the Danby cartoon of Feb. 10 depicting Gov. Paul LePage as the bad guy wanting to hurt people by cutting benefits.

Gov. LePage is being forced to make difficult decisions because of unparalleled expansion in health care coverage by the Baldacci administration. MaineCare enrollment has grown 78 percent while the state population has grown 7 percent in the last 20 years. Medicaid spending has increased by $1 billion over the last 10 years, a 45 percent increase.

I am grateful Gov. LePage has the personal integrity and courage to recognize the unsustainability of this program. I would encourage both the House and Senate to support the structural reforms necessary so we can help the truly needy.

Nancy Cook


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