Wednesday, March 6, 2013: Medicaid money, Aroostook reporters and ‘cosmetics’ in gun debate

Posted March 05, 2013, at 11:59 a.m.

Federal dollars for Maine

As the executive director of a social service agency in northern Maine, I am trying to figure out why anyone would be opposed to accepting federal dollars for Medicaid that have already been set aside for Maine under the Affordable Care Act.

Each week, I meet more folks who want help — but aren’t able to get it because they do not qualify for Medicaid. Agencies cannot depend on private funding anymore and must depend on insurance companies to pay for services to.

Veterans are returning from combat and can’t work and need care — as do families who have been decimated by unemployment and poverty, which often cause mental health and/or substance abuse.

Those who seek help for social services in Maine face huge difficulties. Single men do not qualify for Medicaid unless they are the primary caregiver to children, and only women with children are covered.

Most private insurance plans have enormous premiums and deductibles, so even those who have insurance are paying more out of pocket for health care services.

Why should we turn down Medicaid funds? We should not let that money simply go to another state, strengthening their communities instead of ours.

The system in Maine is not working. These federal dollars would make our workers, thus our communities. healthier; would create more jobs in our health care systems and would save lives by giving more Mainers health insurance.

Maine cannot pass up this opportunity.

Christine Drabek

Mount Desert

Conference gun legislation

We write from our faith perspective to call upon President Barack Obama, Gov. Paul LePage and our federal and state elected officials to ban the possession and use of assault weapons by members of the general public.

As Christians, we are called to resist the violence that pervades our culture. We recognize our capacity to act violently, in ways that can be unpredictable and hard to understand.

All of us are familiar with the violence of our daily life. None of us are sheltered from its threat. We have grown accustomed to the slaughter of innocent life.

Our media and art reflect this reality, as do our rising expenditures on security and avoidance of activities formerly considered safe. Assault weapons, while only one aspect of this violence, are an icon of our tolerance of the inadequately restrained capacity of armed persons to harm others.

We ask our state and federal elected representatives to adopt legislation that bans the sale and possession of assault weapons by individuals; bans the sale and possession of large capacity ammunition magazines by individuals; and requires background checks and safety courses prior to all sales of guns, including sales at gun shows and between private individuals.

Richard Cowles

Interim Conference Minister

Maine Conference UCC

Yarmouth

Republican distortions

I know that Matt Gagnon is paid by the Republican Governors Association, but when he writes blog posts like, “What do Democrats have against hospitals?” he might as well be labeled a Republican fiction writer.

On the day my brother was sworn into office in 2003, he was left 11 years of unpaid hospital bills.

During his eight years in office, he paid off close to 12 years worth of hospital bills and left Gov. Paul LePage far less debt than what former Gov. John Baldacci was left with. The state was also in a stronger financial position, despite what LePage rants about.

The “LePageites” should also remember that Charlie Summers and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee put out a ton of material last fall detailing all the debts left for Baldacci to deal with from previous administrations. Baldacci could spend an entire campaign just quoting from Republican material.

If LePage wants to convince us that his policies are valid, then that is his right. But distorting the truth so completely only suggests he really doesn’t have any coherent policies himself.

Joe Baldacci

Bangor

Multiple thanks

The Bangor Daily News is blessed with two of the most interesting writers in Maine. Maybe it’s because I live in Aroostook County, but I really look forward to Julia Bayly and Kathryn Olmstead’s articles every time they appear in the newspaper.

Bayly is a gifted correspondent, and her stories and news reports are always super. Every Friday, I look forward to reading Olmstead’s articles as well.

Also, thanks to the guy who delivers the BDN at my front door every morning at 5 a.m., no matter the weather. May they all have a long life, including the BDN.

Marc Chasse

Fort Kent

Cosmetic control

In his current constituent response on the gun control discussion and legislative proposals dealing with gun control, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said he has serious reservations about limiting “assault weapons” because there is “too much emphasis on the cosmetic appearance of particular firearms rather than their actual functionality.”

For those pro-gun control folks who use the term “assault weapon,” a carefully presented National Rifle Association tutorial is being circulated on the misnomer.

Its real intent, though, is to say that if one can’t distinguish an “assault weapon” by definition, then the case for limiting anything is questionable.

The gun control effort is not about cosmetics or technical definitions of weaponry and does not seek to obliterate anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

This so called “assault” on gun owner’s rights is not a high-capacity, rapid-fire onslaught against all guns or their owners. It is, though, a limited-capacity onslaught where the outcome will be a lessening of deaths. It’s just common sense: Less ammo power equals less deaths.

The Bushmaster’s cosmetics are fine, and handguns are handy, but take the high-capacity magazines off the shelf.

If a person truly thinks he or she needs to have a firearm that can do so much damage in such a short period of time, their own mental clarity might be questioned in the gun-owner screenings that some anti-control lobbyists say they’d support.

My sense, though, is that when people see these particulars, their support will quickly wane. If people think limiting guns is difficult, wait until they try to qualify someone’s mental health.

Of the approaches being aired towards lessening gun deaths, many have merit, but “cosmetics” is not the issue. Magazine capacities are the issue, and King needs to stop diverting the discussion with “cosmetics.” It’s wasting precious time.

Will Brown

Lincolnville

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