Tuesday, November 19, 2013: Religious freedom, bear baiting and Medicare enrollment

Posted Nov. 18, 2013, at 11:14 a.m.

Real religious freedom

I was disappointed to read Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, is sponsoring legislation to undo gay marriage based on “religious grounds.” The Constitution guarantees our right to practice whatever religion we want. It does not guarantee anyone the right to force their religious beliefs on anyone else. Having other religious beliefs forced on them was why the Puritans left Europe. It is what the Taliban does with Sharia (Islamic) law when they get in power.

Some couple’s marriage doesn’t interfere with my ability to practice my religion. Our democracy is based on separation of church and state precisely because forcing any religious beliefs on people is tyranny. On the other hand, our civil law requires the government to protect all people from discrimination.

Jean Schild

Eastport

Medicare enrollment

Medicare’s open enrollment period is underway until Dec. 7. Not to worry — Medicare is not linked to the new health insurance marketplace.

Every year at this time Medicare usually takes center stage with its open enrollment period. It’s an extremely important time of year for millions of people ages 65 and older wanting to enroll in Medicare or review coverage plans for 2014.

The Oct. 15 start of this year’s open enrollment period was very different. It was caught up in the confusion caused by several other national events — the government shutdown and the newly launched health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. It’s understandable that Medicare beneficiaries were left feeling lost in the shuffle and unsettled. The good news?

The shutdown is over, and Medicare’s open enrollment is well underway. The new health insurance marketplace will not change anything for people enrolling or already enrolled in Medicare. Coverage options and benefits will not be affected. If you have Medicare, you are covered.

Choosing the most beneficial health care coverage plan for the years ahead can be a daunting task. It requires a thoughtful process and often times a good helping hand. The best news is that there are many resources and exceptionally qualified and trustworthy people available in Maine to help answers any questions.

• Visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about the different options including Medicare Advantage Plans.

• Talk to friends or relatives who are already enrolled in Medicare. Ask for their advice and what they have learned in the process.

• Call or make an appointment to talk with experts at your local Area Agency on Aging.

Please don’t forget. Medicare’s open enrollment period ends Dec. 7.

Becky Dube

Portland

Bear facts

If the state does away with hunting bear with hounds, traps and over bait and just lets us hunt bear with our trusty rifle, I doubt if we will see a bear kill of over 1,000 per year.

Take it from one who has been hunting for 70 years in a bear populated area.

Bears are destructive, in your trash and known to kill deer and house pets. They are a very hungry animal when they come out of their den. They are smart and will sense when you are in the area. Good luck if you end up between a mother and her cubs. In that situation, do not run, just back off slowly and perhaps say a little prayer.

Dwight C. Whitney Sr.

Jonesboro

Bear baloney

No sooner had the proposal for another bear referendum been announced than the LePage administration began its campaign of lies and misinformation. The administration’s position is that bear baiting is necessary for public safety. Baloney. The state of Maine urges the public not to feed bears out of concern for safety, yet it hypocritically endorses a massive bear feeding program that provides thousands of bears with tons of human-produced food.

This feeding program is intended not only to make killing bears easier but to produce more and larger bears in order that they may be killed for sport and trophies. As the feeding program has grown, so has Maine’s bear range and population. It is ludicrous to think that feeding thousands of bears can be considered “management.” Female bears teach their cubs to rely on human food. They also go into hibernation with more fat reserves and, therefore, produce more cubs.

This misguided program also has the unintended consequence of providing food to other animals such as coyotes. A paradigm shift is needed. Feeding bears is not necessary to protect the public. Feeding bears should be stopped to protect the public by forcing bears to rely on natural foods and by allowing their population to return to a lower, more natural level.

Without doubt, Maine’s fish and wildlife policies are long overdue for change. Ending the bear feeding program would be a good start.

John Glowa

South China

Responsibility

It is clear from Susan Dench’s BDN columns that she is a very partisan conservative. Great. We still have freedom of the press. Is it really true that she is the founder and president of the “nonpartisan” Informed Women’s Network?

I agree, it is time for all U.S. citizens to take personal responsibility for themselves and for each other.

Our health system has been a disgrace for years. I sold health insurance for more than 10 years to the 5 percent who are truly independent — i.e., the much ballyhooed very small business. At the age of 59 and 62 we stopped buying health insurance ourselves as the $700 per month premiums with $10,000 deductibles were no longer affordable on an adjusted gross income of $38,000 per year.

It is time we stopped assuming that we are hard working and have earned coverage, while the poor are lazy, irresponsible and undeserving.

This country needs to put its collective ego aside long enough to see the exceedingly high cost and poor collective results of the pre-Affordable Care Act system. We need to stop calling other countries, with better health care systems, bad names and open our eyes.

While you’re opening your eyes, take a look at the current distribution of wealth and ask how it happened.

We are entitled to opportunity.

Douglas Pike

Exeter

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/11/18/opinion/tuesday-november-19-2013-religious-freedom-bear-baiting-and-medicare-enrollment/ printed on December 25, 2014