LETTERS

Friday, April 11, 2014: McCutcheon, heart disease, funding for HIV and AIDS prevention

Posted April 10, 2014, at 8:53 a.m.
Last modified April 10, 2014, at 4:56 p.m.

Free speech

The Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling is an abomination not merely because it allows the rich to have disproportionate influence on the political process of our country. No, the decision is simply an assault on the very founding principles of the Constitution — something those 12 sages are supposed to be familiar with.

Upon my last reading of that great document, I did not notice any mention of “political speech,” as the justices seem to feel that monetary donations should be considered. In fact, it has always appeared to me that freedom of speech, and the press, involve opening one’s mouth and mind, not one’s wallet. I expect that Thomas Jefferson and most of the other founders would agree that speaking with your dollars is tantamount to taxation without representation, for it means that anyone who buys a product that supports a rich CEO is unwittingly supporting any political stance the executive takes.

What’s more, the founding idea of the United States is that all men and women have certain inalienable and equal rights. On one hand, that means living, breathing, sentient individuals, not corporations or political action committees. On the other hand, it means we all have the same degree of influence — one person, one vote — on the political process. Our participation does not, should not, depend on the size of our bank account.

If the Supreme Court has no more connection to reality, no more understanding of the rights of man than did those British magistrates of two and a half centuries ago with their wigs and robes, it may be high time that Congress change the term of the justices either to limit their tenure or make their office decided by voters. They are not infallible, much as we’d like them to be.

Steve Colhoun

Addison

Prevent heart trouble

Prevention of heart trouble, technically atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, has received new risk management guidelines. The 2013 guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend statin therapy for four groups of patients. In the March 19, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine, a group from the Duke Clinical Research Institute reported that the new guidelines would increase the number of U.S. adults receiving or eligible for statin therapy by 12.8 million, with the increase seen mostly among older adults without cardiovascular disease.

I trust that this advice is sound, but I ponder what is in our human nature that causes us to be more willing to pay for and swallow two pills daily for the rest of our lives than to change our behavior to include one hour of planned physical activity (e.g. walking briskly three to five days per week), while eating three meals a day that emphasize more plant foods — such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, including legumes — low-fat dairy products, fish, skinless poultry, nontropical vegetable oils and nuts.

We need to limit intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, red meats and salt. Those recommendations were in my textbooks when I became a dietitian in 1942 and continue to be found in all our texts today. Do we need to return to home-prepared meals with less processed food and fewer pills?

Katherine Musgrave

Orono

Economic impact

Please consider these facts from reliable sources known for their objective, rigorous research.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, if we expand Medicaid using federal dollars for 100 percent of the cost for three years, we can predict savings to the Maine state budget of $690 million over 10 years.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy says that the federal dollars will generate 4,400 jobs and $500 million in annual economic activity in Maine by 2016.

According to the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal office, the new measure would save $3.4 million in the state’s budget in the first year.

Even if I put these numbers and statistics aside, and focus on being human, I know I would be constantly worrying if I didn’t have health insurance. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do without. And we surely know that providing 70,000 Mainers with health insurance won’t cost Maine taxpayers a cent, and it will generate income and jobs.

Democrats and reasonable Republicans have come together to do what is best for the people of Maine by creating a common-sense proposal that saves money, creates jobs and will improve the lives of thousands of Mainers. Only the governor stands in the way.

Whatever his motives, they can’t be compassion nor understanding how badly Maine needs the positive economic effect. This has dragged on too long; we need to expand MaineCare now.

David H. Fluharty

Bath

Harm reduction

I wish to put forward an opinion on a bill before our legislative employees. Yes, they are our employees, but that is another opinion piece.

LD 1699 seeks to restore to the agencies that work in HIV and AIDS prevention money the federal government took away. Legislators in both houses passed the emergency measure.

LD 1699 now rests on the special appropriations table, and that means it may never receive funding and may never do what legislators said it should.

Down East Aids Network and Eastern Maine Aids Network offer free HIV screening in a variety of venues; they test for hepatitis C; DEAN issues new syringes in exchange for used ones. The principle is “harm reduction.” Reusing needles exposes users to blood-borne diseases, including HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C.

DEAN and EMAN provide their clients case management services and education; they offer counseling, a youth organization and more.

It is essential to avoid de-funding this work. If these agencies do not do it, who will? Who will pay for that work?

We will. There will be hospital bills and invoices from nursing facilities. Did you know that the LGBTQ community suffers a health care disparity already? What next, if the services they get are gone?

During the Reagan years, we heard “trickle-down” economics. Now, it is trickle-down poverty, injustice and oppression. The poorest suffer the most. Are we disposable if we are poor? Is it survival of the financially fittest? Or will we “man up” and re-fund these services for the sake of all of us.

Dawn Coffin

Cherryfield

 

Override veto

On Friday, the Maine Legislature is poised to vote on an override of Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of Medicaid expansion. On behalf of the Maine Council of Churches, I am writing to urge Maine’s legislators to vote for an override of the veto.

The only right vote is an override. One of the chief priorities of the Maine Council of Churches is to ensure that all people in Maine have access to affordable, safe health care. We believe that the governor’s veto runs counter to our Christian values and good social governance.

Currently, the 70,000 uninsured people that Medicaid could cover seek their care in emergency rooms and other centers of “charity care.” This is essentially a catastrophe for patients, hospitals and the insured who pay for this with higher premiums and fees. In the end, denying Medicaid coverage costs the people of Maine far more in increased health care premiums and hospital cutbacks than it does in saving any real dollars. Why continue to turn our backs on the uninsured and on the very institutions that we trust to keep us well?

Morally, the veto runs contrary to what the people of Maine stand for, especially people of good faith and conscience. The Maine Council of Churches strongly urges an override of this veto. Please cover 70,000 Mainers now! It is the right thing to do.

Rev. Dr. William M. Barter

Executive Director, Maine Council of Churches

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