Friday, July 27, 2012: Health care, feral cats and east-west highway

Posted July 26, 2012, at 2:45 p.m.

Care Act celebration

It is the anniversary of the institution of Medicare at the end of July. Before Medicare, many older Americans could not even think about retirement. At my age (I am presently 89), I remember the struggles that my parents faced. They were both employed, but medical issues were always a concern. For some people we knew, the daily issues were often difficult, even devastating, and hampered their ability to save for their later years. Retirement for many of them became an impossible dream.

While I understand that the Affordable Care Act has been a source of some debate, what is clear is that the law improves Medicare. With more than 228,000 beneficiaries in Maine alone, this is great news.

For one thing, the law adds several benefits such as yearly wellness exams and screenings for certain cancers and diabetes. Early detection is so important with serious health issues and this benefit can help many of us stay healthier longer.

The Affordable Care Act also closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage or “doughnut hole,” so our out-of-pocket costs will go down significantly in the future.

With benefits such as these, the Affordable Care Act improves our health supports and programs. We will be better off because of it, and as we mark the anniversary of Medicare on July 30, I feel that this is indeed something to celebrate.

Jane Magnus

Windham

Homeless cats

The feral cats in Veazie don’t care about local squabbles, good intents or apologies. Just like you and me, they simply want to live. They want to cuddle up in the safety of their homes at night.

Instead, these cats are being ripped from their homes.

These cats didn’t just roll off a pile of catnip one day and decide to overwhelm the community. Instead of reaching out to Animal Rights Maine, Alley Cat Allies or Forgotten Felines for help when there were a few cats, residents waited until there were more than 30 and then demanded removal.

Removing cats from an area is not only cruel, it’s pointless. The empty habitat attracts other cats from neighboring areas, who move in to take advantage of the same resources that attracted the first group.

This draws the community into an endless cycle of trapping.

Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is the responsible and humane method of care for feral cats. TNR stabilizes feral cat populations. The cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated and neutered, so no more kittens will be born, then

returned to their homes. Unlike removal, TNR works.

I hope people will learn from this tragedy and ask for help before colonies get too big.

If you have room to adopt strays from Veazie, contact the shelter at 942-8902. If you have a barn that could provide a home for ferals waiting at the shelter for relocation, please contact Forgotten Felines of Maine at 669-2660.

Let’s be more attentive to homeless cats. It’s our responsibility.

Lesa Jackson

Houlton

Health care cuts

According to a July 23 BDN article, “ Mainecare cuts could lead to lawsuit,” Maine Republican lawmakers who crafted the changes to MaineCare, and passed them into law largely without Democratic votes, have said Maine Department of Health and Human Services spending on health insurance programs for the poor is unsustainable and Maine can no longer afford such generous offerings.

They’re cutting health care from over 24,000 Maine seniors and children while also passing unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy. The vote was 19 to 16 in the Senate and 74 to 69 in the House. Yet Ana Hicks, senior policy adviser for the Maine Equal Justice Partners, has said that those being cut by Republicans are protected under federal law. I’m certainly glad to find that someone is attempting to seek justice.

Eliot J. Chandler

Hampden

Intelligent and thoughtful

In response to “ Burlesque Candidate Strips Away Stigma in Portland School Race” by Chris Busby on July 19, as president of the West End Neighborhood Association, I knew before many others that Ed Bryan, the current School Board District 2 representative, was not seeking re-election. I was also aware that Holly Seeliger was a candidate for the seat. The email that I sent to our membership just stated that “it is never a good thing to have uncontested elections” and urged anyone interested to run and to let their friends and neighbors know of the opening.

An intelligent and thoughtful campaign allows voters and candidates to learn more about each other and the issues. Competing candidates bring more questions and views for the electorate to consider, rather than a monologue, which is about all an uncontested candidate can provide.

It’s great that Seeliger and at least two others are willing to campaign and seek this position. Now it is up to the voters to listen to what they have to say and make up their minds as to who has the capability, responsibility and dedication to do the best job as the District 2 representative on the Portland School Board.

The West End Neighborhood Association is not a political organization and endorses no one in this or any other race.

Now, who will run against Dave Marshall, who is currently running unopposed for the District 2 City Council seat?

Rosanne Graef

Portland

Growth with east-west highway?

One of the selling points of the east-west highway is supposed to be the benefit to the towns that will be blessed with its six interchanges.

Everyone seems to assume there will be growth and development where there is access to the east-west from other highways. Is that assumption correct?

Since the east-west would be similar to I-95 north of Bangor in that they both run through mostly undeveloped areas with limited access, I checked the growth of the towns with I-95 interchanges, namely Howland, Lincoln, Medway, Sherman, Island Falls, Oakfield, Ludlow and Houlton. According to the Maine Registers, the combined population of those towns in 1950, before I-95 was built, was 18,209. In 2010, with I-95 long established, their total population was 16,624, for a loss of over 8 percent.

For comparison I checked the growth of towns near those same interchanges, namely West Enfield, Lee, East Millinocket, Patten, Dyer Brook, Smyrna, New Limerick and Hodgdon. Their combined population in 1950 was 6,973, and in 2010 it was 7,743. This represented growth of about 11 percent.

Can we assume that towns with east-west interchanges would flourish and grow? It hasn’t happened for towns with interchanges on I-95 north of Bangor, which have shrunk while their neighbors have grown.

Lawrence E. Merrill

Bangor

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