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Monday, March 19, 2012: DHHS, MPBN and the cost of living

DHHS and responsibility

Recently, the state learned some residents were approved for Medicaid yet were not actually eligible to receive this insurance. The Department of Health and Human Services supposedly did not know its computer system was making an error.

My question to the people of Maine is, if you knew you were committing fraud by cheating the system, why do people who were not involved, such as taxpayers, have to pay the missing money back? Sure, there are people who are completely innocent, but there are people who knew they were lying about their insurance. Is there not a way to track these certain people? Or is Maine’s system not up to date, like the computer system issuing Medicaid?

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew states that the system has been having problems since its launch in 2010. Didn’t she say she knew about this problem in January? Why is she only now doing something about this? The responsibility should lie with the people who knew about the problem.

The LePage administration in many cases is to blame here. Coming into office, they were aware of this huge factor affecting our state and pushed it aside. Who’s to know that the Baldacci administration overlooked this, but with a new administration in, things should have been double-checked instead of pointing fingers from a year ago.

Maggie Wallace


Bully pundits

I’ve searched and searched. I can find no definitive numbers on Limbaugh’s audience. What I found were numbers between 8 and 25 million listeners. More likely between 8-15 million. We have over 300 million people in the United States. How exactly is Rush Limbaugh the head of anything? When I do run into a “dittohead” they standout because their views are more severe then everyone else in the room.

My second point is this: Speak to a few smart people under the age of 30, and Bill Maher is a political figure to them. Jon Stewart is a political figure to them. Although I agree with both men on most issues, I worry that they aren’t giving kids the whole story. I stopped watching Maher a few years ago because he was becoming just too offensive. Stewart and Stephen Colbert make politics amusing but many kids may as well be watching Adult Swim.

You cannot selectively pick and chose who to bully if they say something offensive. Maher, Limbaugh and the others have every right to be as rude and insensitive as they choose but please don’t pretend one is any different than the other.

Gregory Bouchard


MPBN bias

I am a small-business owner, registered Republican and fiscal conservative. I appreciate our governor’s efforts to reduce waste in Maine government. I am not, however, appreciative of what appears to be his personal agenda of attacking the Maine Public Broadcasting system.

I have listened to and read all forms of media and newscast over the years. I have chosen public radio as my primary news source for the following reasons: it is convenient, dependable, has emergency broadcasts, doesn’t waste my time with advertisements and does make a real effort to interview parties from all sides of the issue.

In fact, after reviewing the many studies of perceived liberal bias of MPBN, I’ve concluded that the biggest bias is the one created by individuals such as Gov. LePage who are so ideologically entrenched and controlling that they simply won’t give interviews to the press unless their coverage will be favorable.

I make an average contribution of $120 a year to MPBN but it is public funding that serves the vital purpose of keeping the service accountable to the public. I remember plenty of MPBN interviews with Sen. Olympia Snowe over the years, as well as Sen. Doug Thomas and Reps. Paul Davis and Kevin Raye, all strong Republican voices.

Gov. LePage should drop this personal attack on MPBN and get back to the substance of governing.

Eric Stirling

Shawtown Township

Cost of living

Back in the 1960s when the rate of pay was $1.25 per hour, a family of four could live on one breadwinner and no frills but a TV. Wages as compared to prices were good. You only needed one car. You had to have a down payment for even the cheapest house.

For years now it takes the income of two to carve out a living, the price of commodities being so high as well as the cost of a roof over our heads.

As I see the ridiculous price of houses in the newspapers, it seems only a couple of teachers living together or other upper-middle-income workers can afford one. This leaves mobile homes, not that they are bad: they tend to heat easy and don’t have much upkeep.

The great American dream is gone for so many people.

The price people paid for their homes and no down payment had some effect on the housing meltdown, plus other factors.

I saw an ad from a contractor who said he could build a 24-by-32-foot house for $149,000. It didn’t say what was included. Even at this price it is not for lower income people. I completely remodeled my house in the late 1980s for around $25,000 including furniture.

It appears as if we can’t renovate a building anymore. For some reason it seems demolishing one and disposing of it is less expensive.

Yes, life and times were better just 20 years ago. Remember a cost of living raise is just that, an increase in the cost of living.

Erwin McAllister


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