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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014: Medicaid expansion, NSA surveillance, summer lunch programs

More welfare, wrong prescription

In his Feb. 10 OpEd, liberal think tank director Garrett Martin writes at length about the federal dollars that would come into Maine if we expand medical welfare under Obamacare, saying that if we decline the federal bait-and-switch, we’ll miss out on lots of economic activity.

However, much Obamacare federal spending is coming to Maine regardless of whether state government expands Medicaid. If we don’t expand, most of those eligible for expansion will receive heavily subsidized private plans on the exchange for about the cost of a pack of cigarettes per week. (Nearly half of the eligible population smokes.)

In fact, these are private plans that cover the full cost of doctors’ and hospitals’ services, instead of paying only a portion of costs as Medicaid does.

Furthermore, many liberal economists who project these economic ripple effects use the same pie-in-the-sky formulas used to predict President Obama’s stimulus package would reduce unemployment to 5 percent by July 2013.

Democrats sold us some similar snake oil years ago when they said expanding Medicaid would reduce emergency room usage, charity care and the number of uninsured. Instead, all of those promises fell flat, and we were left with a $500 million hospital debt and annual budget shortfalls that left thousands of disabled Mainers on waitlists and crowded out funding for education and other priorities.

Rhode Island expanded Medicaid, and we found out the other day that their initial enrollment estimates are being shattered.

Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.


Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman

No Such Agency

An old Army buddy and I were chuckling the other day about the hoopla over National Security Agency surveillance and monitoring. We served together in the Army Security Agency back in the Cold War days of the late 1950s in Germany. At that time, the ASA served as “cheap labor” for the NSA as our mission was to monitor Soviet and “other” communications and send the most important intercepts on to the NSA.

As low level interceptors, we were often called NSA’s “rent-a-troopers” at $132.50 per month for a “Spec-4” Russian linguist. Nobody then had ever heard of the NSA, and our nickname for our parent organization was “No Such Agency.”

My buddy reminded me of one of our fellow interceptors who was transferred to embassy duty in Sweden to obviously monitor the Swedes. We had this nifty sign in operations (where we worked) in Heilbronn, Germany, that read: “In God we trust, all others we monitor.” Over 55 years later, the NSA is still doing its job.

Peter Duston


Criminal care

Gov. Paul LePage took MaineCare from thousands of people last year. Maine spends close to $14 million a year on the health care of prison inmates. Killers, rapists, child molesters, bank robbers, drug dealers, etc., receive medical, dental and eye care courtesy of taxpayers.

For some unexplained reason, LePage, Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, and other Republican leaders think the health care of these criminals is more important than the health of law-abiding, low-income citizens.

Democrats are leading the fight to expand MaineCare and may be making some headway. Republicans evidently fear they may lose this time around and have begun a smear campaign against the leading Democrat fighting to restore MaineCare to those who had it taken away.

LePage also repealed the property tax and rent refund program, so all those who previously benefited from it got nothing last year, which amounted to a tax increase for these folks. Now the governor wants to cut revenue sharing, which would mean another property tax increase.

I voted the first time in 1972 and have always voted Republican, but that may very well change next time. I do know LePage and Fredette won’t get my vote again.

Jerry Robichaud



Customers’ first

Last week, CVS pharmacy took a bold step announcing a plan to remove tobacco products from its stores. It is an obvious choice for public health and simultaneously a hard decision in the face of corporate profits. But with this initiative, CVS is ushering in a new dynamic that has the potential to transform the health of the nation.

Nurses who care for patients with cancer see firsthand the devastating effects of the disease and its treatment. Lung cancer is particularly cruel in the toll that it takes emotionally, physically and financially. It claims more lives each year than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.

CVS’s decision has the potential to improve these statistics. Avoiding tobacco and second-hand smoke is critical to preventing lung cancer. The Oncology Nursing Society, a professional association with 35,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing, transforming cancer care and improving quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families, applauds CVS for its stand and encourages other pharmacies and retailers to consider the same action.

With many pharmacies now offering health care clinics that deliver top-notch care from trusted professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, it is essential that the products on their shelves reflect their commitment to better health.

With a nationwide focus on better health care, prevention and early detection, and reducing costs, it is imperative that we take the first steps to better health. CVS has done just that. ONS and the nurses who care for patients with cancer thank CVS for putting their customers’ health first.

Patricia Manning

Northern Maine Chapter President

Oncology Nursing Society


No free lunch

The opinion expressed in the Feb. 13 BDN editorial cartoon concerning the proposed “free” summer lunch program in schools reflects the most challenging problem we face as a nation and as a state. When are we going to learn that nothing is free?

There is no free health care; there is no free heating oil; there is no free food and there is no free lunch. Somebody always has to pay.

Similarly, buying into some federal program just because the feds “promise” to pay up to 90 percent of that program is expecting to get something for nothing. Who but us funds the federal government?

I am not saying we should not support some of these programs, but we need to set limits and priorities. If we fail to do this, we get what we deserve — federal and state bankruptcy.

Walter Plaut



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