Saturday, May 11, 2013: Religion, MaineCare and dental access

Posted May 10, 2013, at 2:31 p.m.

Democracy, not theocracy

Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, has recently sponsored LD 1428, A n Act to Protect Religious Freedom. It’s obvious to me where the impetus for LD 1428 comes from: Religious conservatives are unhappy with the recent expansion of civil marriage rights to same-sex couples, despite the fact that the new law specifically states that religious organizations will not be required to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

Back in 2005, they also opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in Maine’s Civil Rights Act — a law that prohibits discrimination in employment, education, housing, public accommodations and credit. This, too, was despite the fact that, once again, religious organizations were provided exemptions.

I suspect many religious conservatives are also unhappy with the growing empowerment of women, as evidenced by the Catholic Church’s recent efforts to limit access to birth control, as well as the firing of a Catholic schoolteacher who became pregnant outside of marriage.

As an aside, has anyone ever heard of the Catholic Church firing male teachers who have fathered children outside of marriage? Heck, it could even be argued that the Catholic Church has provided more employment protections to abusive priests than single mothers.

Their discomfort with expansions of equality and freedom do not, however, justify legislation such as LD 1428. Supporters of LD 1428 need to be reminded that we live in a democracy, not a theocracy, and that freedom of religious belief is protected, but freedom to impose those beliefs on others is not.

Lisa Morris

Portland

Don’t turn down money

Maine has the opportunity to increase access to health care for nearly thousands of low-income Mainers and save taxpayer dollars. By accepting federal dollars already allocated for the state to increase access to health coverage through MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program, Gov. Paul LePage can significantly reduce the number of low-income families who lack access to affordable health care.

Maine’s governor and lawmakers need to reach a decision on whether to accept federal dollars to increase access to Medicaid coverage. Further delays could result in the state losing significant funding that could improve the health of its most vulnerable communities and reduce health care costs.

By giving more people regular access to a doctor, we can avoid spending millions of dollars currently used to treat uninsured people in emergency rooms.

It does not make sense to turn down money that is already available to help Mainers. Hardworking, low-income families need the security of quality health coverage to get lifesaving care when they need it.

Marianne Moore, volunteer

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Calais

Our precious companions

My heart was broken twice last week when I read about the two cases of animal abuse. Will someone please explain to me why so-called-adults abuse defenseless animals?

In regards to the dog that was shot because it defecated on the floor: Clean it up, train the dog, have patience or do not get a dog in the first place. In regards to the dog that was left chained to a gazebo: It was in such poor condition that it had to be euthanized.

There is enough violence in this world. Do not abuse our precious companions. The guilty need to be held accountable for their deplorable actions. Thank goodness for all folks who do cater to our beloved pets.

Sharlene Daly

Castine

Access to dental care

The Maine Dental Association resists publicly acknowledging there is a problem with dental care in Maine. One of the leading reasons that uninsured or underinsured people visit an emergency room is dental pain.

These folks are given prescriptions for pain and a recommendation to see a dentist, an unaffordable option. Many dentists do an incredible and wonderful job serving their patients. Yet, these professionals do not have capacity to accept new underserved Mainers or lack of desire to financially risk their practice by accepting individuals with no insurance or MaineCare.

Underserved Mainers are therefore left with toothaches that can turn into serious health problems. We need more providers who will give adequate low-cost care to those needing it the most, and they are often young kids.

I do not want to see any child in pain because we adults cannot get our act together and offer up a workable, viable and reasonable solution. Mainers should stand behind those state legislators and policy makers introducing dental therapists to the state.

These dental professionals will be able to perform routine procedures so that the dentist’s capacity is freed up to handle more complex cases. From a quality control perspective, dental therapists will be under the general supervision of a Maine dentist, and they will provide care that many residents now do not have.

We cannot afford as Maine taxpayers to go another day without affordable dental care. The solution is before us, and we have to let our voice be heard.

John W. Cole

Scarborough

Vote pro-environment

In mid-April, I attended a constituent meeting at the Carmel Town Office with my two state legislators, Sen. Andrew Cushing, R-Hampden, and Rep. Roger Reed, R-Carmel. I want to thank them both for taking time out of their busy schedules to discuss important environmental issues with us.

Of particular concern to me and others at the meeting were efforts to mine for minerals in Maine, removing toxic chemicals from children’s products and increasing investments in energy efficiency here in Maine.

As a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which is currently debating these bills, I urged Reed to support LD 1302, which would protect Maine’s waters from pollution caused by metal mining and ensure financial assurances.

Mining operations could foul Maine’s waterways, affect fishing and tourism opportunities and pollute drinking water. I also urged Reed to support LD 1181, which would make important updates to Maine’s Kids Safe Products Law and ensure the state continues to take action to remove dangerous chemicals from everyday products.

During the meeting, we also discussed ways in which to tackle the rising cost of energy. We urged both legislators to prioritize investments in energy efficiency and home weatherization by voting yes on LD 1426.

As a resident of Etna for more than 30 years and someone concerned with the health of Mainers and our beautiful state, I urge my state legislators to vote yes on these bills.

Gloria Banach

Etna

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