LETTERS

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014: Health care privilege, climate policy, emergency room care

Posted Jan. 20, 2014, at 10:01 a.m.

Quality health care

My family will never receive the level or quality of health care that, for example, President Barack Obama or ex-Vice President Dick Cheney can obtain. Wealth and success can earn privilege. That is acceptable. My family has received coverage of average quality paid by combinations of out-of-pocket expense, private insurance and now Medicare with a supplemental policy. That, too, is acceptable.

There is another group in our society that lacks not just superior coverage or average coverage — they lack the most essential health care coverages that would permit them to live with some degree of comfort and security. This is morally unacceptable. It is clear to a majority of residents that a healthy, educated society benefits all members.

We must expand health care coverage knowing it is a wise and ethical action.

Lawrence J. DellaMattera

East Newport

Climate policy

I was glad to see the Dec. 24 OpEd by Peter Mills and Sharon Tisher, “ Maine should lead Washington on climate policy.

Maine has a long history of protecting our environment: Sens. Ed Muskie and George Mitchell were critical in constructing the laws that protect our water and air nationwide. According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report, nearly half of Maine people live in areas with unhealthy air. Air pollution causes tens of thousands of asthma attacks, emergency room visits, missed days of school and work, and can exacerbate and worsen other health conditions.

Maine is often called “the tailpipe of the nation” as much of the air pollution in Maine is blown in from the coal-burning Midwest. Because of that, we depend on the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the laws that Muskie and Mitchell constructed. Now, we are depending on Congress to address carbon pollution and the devastating effects that climate change is already having on our state and nation.

In this time of partisan bickering in Washington, Maine is in a unique position to show the rest of the country what’s at stake if we don’t act on climate. Sen. Susan Collins has broken ranks with her party by voting against a measure that would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. And just this week Sen. Angus King joined the Senate Climate Action Task Force. Our senators get it. Now it’s time for the rest of Washington to get on board.

Laura King

Fairfield

Promoting general welfare

After reading Steve Colhoun’s letter “War on poverty” in the Jan. 14 BDN, I had to look up the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I note that it says “promote” the general welfare, not provide. It seems to me that we would do well with less providing and more promoting, especially after reading Susan Dench’s column about alleged EBT card abuse.

Dennis Higgins

Jonesport

Favorite columnist

Kudos to columnist Sarah Smiley. I have lived a long time; I have a son who is depressive, and I have never before heard the symptoms of depression expressed so eloquently.

What courage it takes to open the door and show all of us what the pain is like, and God love the child who is so wise with his words. He helped bring his mother back to us. Thank you.

The comparison of depression and diabetes and the use of medications to reduce symptoms is an eye-opener as well. What is the purpose of our knowledge if we don’t use it for our own and our family’s good?

Bravo, Sarah. You are my favorite for a reason.

Sharon E. Weber

Calais

Religious preservation

In regards to the Jan. 16 article, “ Religious freedom’ bill in Maine would lead to legalized discrimination, opponents say,” anyone not attending the hearing but only reading this article would be easily misled. The headline is an accurate portrayal of statements made by the opponents to religious liberty, but the article fails to mention the more important information.

The claims of “legalized discrimination” and a “flood of litigation” were soundly refuted by expert testimony and by the experience of 18 other states with similar laws. The federal government passed similar protections for religious liberty in 1993, and there has been no “legalized discrimination.”

Maine’s attorney general said that if this law passed, people could kill their dogs, claim religious motivation, and the state would not be able to do anything about it. Is there a new “dog-killing” religion in Maine?

The truth is, this law would simply require the government to show a “compelling interest” to restrict such behavior. LD 1428, An Act to Protect Religious Freedom as amended by Sen. David Burns, is a fair, reasonable, necessary law that preserves freedom for every Maine resident.

Opponents are not against discrimination. They just want to be the ones to choose who is discriminated against.

Bob Emrich

Plymouth

Report card

Maine would appear to have the third strongest overall emergency care environment in the nation with a B-, according to a state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment issued recently by the American College of Emergency Physicians. However, the state’s emergency departments continue to face challenges and uncertainties, including those brought by health care reform, which could shrink resources and increase demand.

Maine has dedicated funding for quality improvements within its emergency medical services system, as well as an EMS medical director. Access to emergency care fares somewhat well overall, but there are long waits for psychiatric hospital beds, especially for children. Sometimes these people have waited as many as eight days.

Given the uncertainties of health care reform, emergency care has never been more important than it is right now. Our state legislators need to make emergency care a priority.

Dr. Charles F. Pattavina

Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine

St. Joseph Hospital

Bangor

 

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