LETTERS

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014: Camden zoning, expanding Medicaid

Posted Jan. 28, 2014, at 10:46 a.m.

Camden selection

We as Camden taxpayers are concerned with the process by which the community will resolve the Fox Hill rezoning application.

With all due respect to those supporting Fox Hill, including our colleagues at Harvard Medical School, the process they are requesting the select board to follow is inconsistent with representative democracy, rendering the critical roles of the planning and select boards irrelevant.

In Camden, selectmen hold public hearings to become informed about how voters’ wish to be governed. Selectmen, as elected representatives, should listen and then vote with the views of voters in mind, rather than being swayed by minority special interests. If the select board fails in its duty to make important decisions because they are “too complex or contentious,” it will have failed in its most basic and fundamental duty to those who elected them.

In the case of Camden, there is one additional step for any zoning change — formal adoption by the people at town vote. We encourage the select board not to confuse this additional step with its job in a representative democracy of deciding first whether or not it should even be considered for adoption. If the majority of selectmen oppose the proposal, the board must reject it. If a majority approve of the proposal, the board must recommend its adoption in June.

We urge the select board to make a decision on behalf of the very people who elected the board to do so.

Rachel M. McCleary

Senior research fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Robert J. Barro

Warburg professor of economics, Harvard University

Camden

Expanding Medicaid

As many as half of all individuals experiencing homelessness do not qualify for MaineCare, including individuals who have been homeless for long periods of time. This population has been disproportionately expensive to serve when homeless because they tend to ricochet through expensive emergency services including police, fire, rescue, detoxification, hospitalizations and emergency rooms.

It’s been proven redundantly that permanent supportive housing works to keep people stable in the community, and it costs less than keeping them homeless. However, finding funding for the support services necessary for success is a significant challenge. This is where Medicaid expansion is crucial for Maine. Allowing access to health services is imperative for individuals to be successful and stable in housing, and it creates an effective, efficient service delivery method, allowing expensive emergency services and hospitalizations to be avoided because people remain housed with the appropriate level of support.

There are measurable, long-term cost savings related to Medicaid expansion. Access to preventative and primary medical care are fundamental to avoidance of health crises, which lead to instability. Expanding Medicaid will safeguard against this, allowing people to avoid medical bankruptcies, instances of homelessness and other crises, all of which remove a significant financial burden from the state.

Expanding Medicaid and accepting federal funds under the ACA would generate long-term savings for Maine, but more importantly it would improve the health and stability of 70,000 of Maine’s most vulnerable people, including hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Cullen Ryan

Community Housing of Maine

Portland

 

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