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Thursday, April 10, 2014: Obamacare, climate change, military shootings

Strengthening ACA

In Congress, you can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Mainers know that, and I believe that’s why they sent me here – they want me to be part of the solution. And changing the way good laws affect people is how Congress should work.

That’s why I worked closely with a group of centrist colleagues to develop a series of commonsense reforms to the Affordable Care Act that will strengthen the law and make good-quality health care more affordable for more people.

And while I appreciate the BDN’s support of the ACA and share in its desire to see the law work, I disagree with its recent editorial stating that some of these proposals are not needed or that they may undermine the law. Given the experience of the problems that arose when the ACA was first implemented, it just makes sense to me to try to fix problems before they happen rather than waiting until it’s too late.

For those Mainers who can’t afford the lowest Bronze-level coverage, for example, the law simply isn’t working. My Copper plan proposal would present them with another, more affordable option – and one that meets the requirements of the law to offer no-cost, preventative care and essential benefits without coverage caps. And for businesses that fear they will struggle under the already-delayed and complex employer mandate, one of the other bills will help to provide them with greater regulatory flexibility in complying with the ACA.

I think the American people understand that no law — particularly one as comprehensive as the ACA — is perfect, but we shouldn’t wait until something goes wrong before trying to fix it. Instead, I will continue to listen to the concerns of Mainers and work with my colleagues to strengthen and improve this important law.

Sen. Angus King

Washington, D.C.


Loan vote

LD 1036, An Act to Amend the Social Work Education Loan Repayment Program, deserves funding by the legislative Appropriations Committee.

Currently, Maine has a shortage of educated social workers willing to continue practice within the state; several different rural regions are desperate for professionals to meet the needs of their populations. Social workers are dedicated to serving the needs of vulnerable populations in Maine and are heavily relied on to provide services at social service and mental agencies across the state.

Social workers come up against many barriers in the pursuit of their career, including low wages, physical and emotional health risks and high education costs; it is difficult to understand why anyone would enter the field of social work. To understand why individuals enter the field, you have to develop an understanding that these individuals truly believe they can make a difference in the lives of the populations we serve.

The funding of this act would not only support current social workers within Maine but also encourage potential students to pursue this field as a viable option for their future.

This act is something that is truly needed to encourage current and future social workers to enter into this field and stay in Maine. I urge readers to contact their representatives and urge them to vote to support this bill.

Kerri Mayra



Saving lives

It appears the Maine Legislature, at least some members, have been working to find a compromise solution to expanding Medicaid coverage. Right now there is a huge gap that allows thousands of Mainers to “fall through the cracks.” These citizens do not make enough money to afford health care through the Affordable Care Act. The federal government is willing to cover the cost of expanding Medicaid for three years at 100 percent, and after three years at 90 percent.

One of the compromise solutions is to evaluate the program after three years to determine how the 10 percent is looking. Another provision adds two fraud investigators to the attorney general’s office. Another reduces the cost of coverage by implementing a managed care plan.

If you or a loved one are dealing with a serious illness, and you fall into that financial gap, you are probably anxiously waiting for the full Legislature to come to its senses.

With this expansion, it has been estimated that nearly 3,000 health care jobs would be created. Kaiser Family Foundation predicts savings to the state budget of $ 690 million over 10 years.

The important issue here is that expanding Medicaid will save the lives of Maine people.

Catherine Buotte



News coverage

The news media has been covering the shootings at the Oklahoma Army base Fort Hood. There are very few people aware of the shooting th at took place last week at the Norfolk, Va., naval station, aboard a naval vessel.

For some reason it seems that this event that cost two lives the shooters and a truly heroic sailor who tried to prevent the shooting is being covered up. What’s up?

Leo Mazerall

Stockton Springs


Climate facts and conflicts of interest

The Earth is clearly warming at an increasing pace as greenhouse gases increase. Climatological records indicate the Earth has in the past reached tipping points where climate change is become self-reinforcing and therefore almost impossible to slow or reverse.

Our current understanding of atmospheric dynamics strongly suggest the warming is due to greenhouse gases caused mostly by human behavior. We already have much evidence that the warming will have effects that will negatively impact human comfort and possibly even our survival.

While there are a few on the fringe who sincerely question this mainstream scientific consensus, they are indeed few. The vast majority of climate change deniers are clearly spreading misinformation because it is to their financial advantage to do so or because they fear loss of campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

There may be a cost to retooling our energy production to eliminate fossil fuel use. The cost will, however, be modest and nothing compared with the cost of continuing to use our atmosphere as a greenhouse gas dumpsite. The deniers have money to spread their lies widely. I call on the press and other media to carefully fact check all claims with regard to global warming and evaluate the source of the claims for conflict of interest before they print.

Keith Hutchison




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