LETTERS

Friday, August 9, 2013: Medicare, turbines and baseball

Posted Aug. 08, 2013, at 3:11 p.m.

Collins kudos

On behalf of AARP’s 230,000 members in Maine, I am writing to thank Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for signing on as a co-sponsor to The Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures Act.

Medicare fraud and abuse is undermining the health of seniors and costing taxpayers an estimated $60-$90 billion every year. The PRIME Act would combat fraud by cracking down on identity theft, improving systems for tracking fraudulent billing and punishing billing errors and overpayments.

Last year, the Medicare fee-for-service program made almost $30 billion in improper payments, an 8.5 percent error rate. For decades, Medicare has operated under a system that pays providers first and investigates suspicious claims later.

The PRIME Act would require that the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services more closely track the overpayments and implement solutions to address them such as closing loopholes, stopping patterns of double billing and other steps.

The PRIME Act is bipartisan legislation that will make significant inroads in the efforts to strengthen Medicare through responsible, sustainable solutions. Collins should be commended for signing on to this important and timely legislation.

Lori Parham, AARP Maine, state director

Portland

 

Turbine direction

A story in the Aug. 7 BDN reported that another proposal for erecting wind turbines has been denied. The opposition to develop this kind of energy baffles me. Human beings, like all species, naturally fight for their lives.

We are destroying our environment and, therefore, our chances for survival every day. Aesthetics has not been a priority in past efforts to satisfy our ever-increasing energy needs. Look around and see what we have done to our environment to satisfy those needs. It’s not a pretty picture.

Wind turbines are the least visually offensive compared with oil fields, mines, power plants, electrical towers and telephone poles. We are in the process of destroying our forests and our waterways and the very air we breathe. On our march toward extinction, we are killing off other species one by one.

Using energy that already exists in a readily available and natural way is our best bet for saving the planet as a habitat for the human race. Wind turbines are not ugly. They are simple and graceful. Compared to the bulky windmills we so admire in paintings of Holland, they are pretty low profile.

As a landscape painter, I appreciate natural beauty as well as the next guy, but something has to be done to save our planet. Wind turbines are at least a step in the right direction. We can’t keep going as we are.

Cheri Walton

Eastport

 

First Wind decisions

Land use planning is about compatibility. The recent denial of First Wind’s Bowers Mountain project demonstrates what should occur when a land use does not fit the proposed site.

Many people focus on First Wind’s use of taxpayer funds, the inefficiency of wind power and First Wind’s tactics. These are all legitimate issues but not the most important.

Bowers Mountain overlooks an area of rare natural beauty. The area is filled with lakes and the people who use them. This natural economic engine will continue as long as the area retains its natural beauty. Sticking an industrial development right in the middle of this area is an obvious incompatibility.

The Land Use Regulation Commission got it right when they denied First Wind. That denial has been duplicated by the Department of Environmental Protection in a separate process. The project is simply incompatible with the existing use.

My guess is that First Wind will be undeterred by both denials and pursue all available appeals. I hope I am wrong and they just accept the denials without more litigation. The next time we hear from First Wind that they want to “work with” the citizens of Maine, remember how First Wind chooses to deal with these denials.

Will First Wind accept the two decisions without appeal and demonstrate to Mainers what they put in their press releases, or will they press on at all costs? They have an opportunity to demonstrate they can “work with” Mainers by gracefully accepting the decisions. After all, they have already had two chances.

We will see in the next 30 days whether First Wind’s claims of “working with” Mainers are real or just hype. If we read “First Wind appeals Bowers decision,” then we have the answer. “Working with” the citizens of Maine means that on occasion we have to accept “no.” Stay tuned.

Frederick Costlow

Bangor

 

Baseball penance

I have been a Yankee fan in Northern Maine since 1954 when there were two of us in Houlton. I suffered through the Joe Pepitone years. I even came to cheer for Roger Clemens after he was in New York for a while. That was a mistake.

I even forgave George Steinbrenner and eventually cheered for Alex Rodriguez — a bigger mistake.

I herewith publicly declare that I will not cheer for the Yankees to win a game in which A-Rod is playing. I will even go so far as not to cheer against the Red Sox as a penance.

Dick Rhoda

Houlton

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