Friday, July 6, 2012: Affordable Care Act and Kent Ward’s farewell

Posted July 05, 2012, at 3:27 p.m.

Affordable care

Matthew Gagnon misinterprets progressives’ reaction to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act [ Buy Insurance Or Else, June 28].

We weren’t celebrating the court — a majority of which has shown its colors in such anti-democratic decisions as Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. We were celebrating the survival of health insurance reform against a campaign of misinformation.

Gagnon finds progressive support for the law mystifying, because it

mandates that some purchase insurance from “large corporations.” Allow me to explain: Liberals don’t like that part of the law either. We would prefer a universal system like Canada’s or a public option.

Still, a law that brings nearly everyone into the system, makes health insurance more affordable, and limits insurers’ freedom to abuse their customers represents real progress.

Gagnon calls the law “draconian.” But if he had fallen ill during his two months without insurance, he easily could have gone bankrupt, and the cost of his care would have fallen on all of us. Such are the tender mercies of the market. Still, he dreams of a “decentralized, bottom up, approach that frees its people to more easily purchase cheaper health insurance …” We’re going to hear a lot of magical thinking like that between now and November.

Don’t buy it.

Any path to affordable health insurance is going to compel universal participation. Anyone who tells you otherwise — including a former governor who says what’s good for his state is somehow bad for the country — is blowing smoke.

Bruce Snider

Belfast

Praise for Ward

What sad news with which to start off Saturday morning!

Kent Ward’s column in the paper is his last. I don’t even know how many years I’ve been reading his columns, but it has been a lot.

In thinking over some of what he has written, the first thing that came to mind was the woman skiing at Sugarloaf, and then when I read his column, didn’t he mention that one!

It was so funny that when I finally stopped laughing, I cut it out and mailed it to my parents in Dallas. My father said he couldn’t stop laughing after he read it. Kent said a good part of his mission was putting a smile on his readers’ faces. He succeeded in that, and often elicited a pretty good guffaw.

We were probably light-years apart politically, and every now and then something he wrote grated, but he was always very soon forgiven. You provided a lot of entertainment and some food for thought, Old Dawg.

Goodbye, Kent. You will be missed. BDN, you just lost an original!

Cindy Carusi

Orono

57 percent more

Matthew Gagnon, in his June 29 column, laments the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act and criticizes the government for raising taxes.

I would like to point out that, through the efforts of the Republican-controlled state legislature which rammed through so-called insurance “reform” last year, my family is now paying 57 percent more for our health insurance (purchased through that radical organization the Maine Chamber of Commerce insurance program for small businesses, no less!) than we did a year ago.

While I certainly object to this increase, I would much rather it were a tax, going to provide services for the people of Maine, rather than providing additional profits for a large corporation.

Anne Stocking

Lamoine

Political genius

Chief Justice Roberts’ historic ruling on the constitutionality of “Obamacare” is hardly a new approach in handling delicate “political” issues. The ruling is reminiscent of Chief Justice Marshall’s 1803 decision in which the Supreme Court recognized that only the courts have the power to decide the constitutionality of statutes.

In Marbury v. Madison, the court recognized its own power of constitutional review in one breath, while striking down a statute that gave the court the power to issue orders to the executive branch. As a consequence, the court did not have to directly intrude on a political issue in which it had been requested to order the Secretary of State to recognize a judge appointed by the prior administration.

Knowing the political backdrop of Obamacare, Chief Justice Roberts found a means to uphold the law from a constitutional standpoint while still giving Obamacare the kiss of death. Logically he reasoned, if Obamacare is viewed as a tax, Congress surely has that power. By branding the law with the “tax” curse, he crystallized the political stakes for the next election. With its institutional integrity preserved, the court remains above the political debate involving tax-and-spend policies.

The Supreme Court reminds us again that Congress has broad powers, more than the founders of our country envisioned. Whether those powers are utilized for the common good is not an issue before the court, properly leaving the political football in play within the public arena.

Brett D. Baber

Veazie

GOP questions

Now that Mitt Romney and others are threatening to repeal Romneycare/Obamacare, I have three questions for Republican candidates.

First: What is your plan for improving access to health care for Americans without insurance (or do you just not care) — you offered no alternatives during the original debates, so what do you propose now?

Second: You want to repeal the whole health care reform act — will you tell voters before the elections that they will no longer be able to keep their kids on their insurance until they are 26? That you will repeal provisions to make sure you can actually get insurance even with pre-existing conditions? That the new very aggressive Medicare fraud prevention system which will protect us all will be dumped as well? That your repeal will continue to make all of us pay for the care of the uninsured, whether or not they can afford insurance?

Third (and this is the hard one): Do you continue to proclaim your Christianity while advocating that Americans with insufficient means to purchase health insurance should be denied decent health care, and that while being a “good Christian” you will oversee the largest military buildup and military budget our country has ever seen at the expense of neglecting real human needs at home and abroad?

Please stop speaking in vague nonsensical terms and provide us the answers to these three simple questions.

Stephen Blythe

Jonesboro

Good health Old Dawg

I have always enjoyed Kent Ward’s keen perception of everyday life. His column was homespun, warm and a relaxed read.

Thank you, Kent. You shall be missed.

Richard L. Manzo

Millinocket

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