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Tuesday, April 26,2016: LePage is on track, Poliquin shuns alternate drug perspective, health care not about shopping

LePage doing a good job

When Paul LePage first ran for governor, he said he was not a politician. He wanted to lead Maine in a new direction. Given the state of affairs in Maine, it was time for change. As a business person, he has the experience to lead and the knowledge about how systems should work. Repeatedly, we had budget shortfall prior to this governor. Repeatedly, money was taken back by the federal government for practices by the Department of Health and Human Services that were not within its guidelines. We were ignoring our roads and other infrastructure.

With a new boss in town, the usual was not going to happen. But the Democrats went on the offensive. They found fault with every initiative, found reasons not to work to make our state a better place. They wanted their total power back at whatever cost. It confounds me that the editors of our daily newspapers followed suit and carried the banner for the Democrats.

When DHHS inappropriately spent money and had to return it, where were folks to question those errors? When DHHS decided to build its own billing system and failed miserably, where were they to question?

Like LePage or hate him, when was the last time we had to pay money back to the feds? It will happen soon probably unless the issue of violent mental health patients is not solved. This is a disservice not only to all mental patients and families, employees and taxpayers of Maine. Party is more important than the residents I guess.

Tom Deschaine

Fairfield

An alternative view of drug abuse

Bruce Poliquin’s congressional campaign website stated he was eager to discuss issues that were outside his comfort zone. His perspective on drug policy reform is without perspective. It sickens me he is jumping on the heroin epidemic as a political issue without benefit of the wisdom offered back when he was a candidate for Congress.

I met Poliquin on several occasions. I supported his failed run for governor, and assumed a vague friendship. During his congressional campaign, I invited him to lunch with an amazing friend. Once he heard with whom we’d be dining, Poliquin made it very clear he was totally disinterested.

I met Jack Cole,a retired New Jersey State Police Undercover Narcotics Officer, and cofounder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, two years ago. Cole has been welcomed by leaders of many countries. When I introduced him to Michael Dunkley, premier of Bermuda, he was warmly welcomed and spoke to many government officials and community organizations.

LEAP speaks for thousands of law enforcement officials (police, judges, prosecutors, wardens, etc.) who say prohibition will always be a failed model, that drug use is a health issue — not a law enforcement issue — and that with controlled and regulated legal drugs society will save thousands of lives, billions of dollars and empty jails of all nonviolent drug offenders.

It’s courageous of LEAP’s members to support laws counter to those they spent their careers enforcing. I’m asking Poliquin to please muster what little courage it takes to break bread with my friend Cole.

Joshua Bate

Phippsburg

Bravo Bangor musicians

During the weekend of April 15 and 16, I had the pleasure of chaperoning the Bangor High chorus, chamber choir, jazz choir, jazz band, concert band, and orchestra in New York City to participate in the Heritage Music Festival. The students and teachers were judged on their performance. The judges used words such as “lovely,” “exquisite,” “warm,” and “challenging material” to describe what they were hearing and seeing as our students performed. Several students were recognized for outstanding individual performances. Additionally, the judges noted that our music teachers were providing their students with the highest quality instruction, support, and opportunities for challenging material and their students were performing it at the highest level.

Not only did our students perform at the highest level musically, but I was proud of how they represented themselves in and about New York City. They were polite and respectful of their teachers, the judges, the chaperones and of all they encountered throughout the city. We were so proud of their performances, of their behavior and how they represented themselves and Bangor High School.

The excitement in the student’s voices as they won award after award — their appreciation for their teachers, for each other, and for their ability to make beautiful music together — was evident throughout the entire trip, but especially during those moments at the festival. I want to thank the teachers, George Redman, Scott Burditt, and William Bell, for their hard work, not just during the past weekend, but throughout the years.

Lisa Bullard

Bangor

Medical care isn’t shopping trip

I’m responding to Matthew Gagnon’s April 6 BDN column, regarding a bill he helped write, An Act To Encourage Health Insurance Consumers To Comparison Shop for Health Care Procedures and Treatment. His solution is to have patients compare prices for health care services, choose the cheapest and pocket some of the difference.

This would make a complicated system even more cumbersome and unfriendly. If you have a heart attack, do you really want to spend time getting price quotes? To choose your heart surgeon based on cost?

Health care is not a “perfect market.” There is never enough information to compare services. You don’t know the price of a procedure before it’s done because you don’t know whether there will be complications, how long you will stay, or what drugs you will end up receiving.

Gagnon forgets there may be good reasons for cost outliers. Massachusetts General Hospital costs twice as much as some hospitals, but it accepts the most complicated patients. Don’t we all want it to remain open, despite its costs, in case we need it, someday?

Right now, insurance companies spend 33 percent of our premiums on “administration”: marketing, trying to enroll the healthiest customers and figuring out how to refuse paying for services you may need. Medicare spends only 1 percent on administrative costs. “Medicare for all” could reduce the cost of private insurance by 32 percent.

Medicare for all would unify prices, reduce the complexity of health care costs, end medical bankruptcies and probably cost less overall than our current system.

Meryl Nass, M.D.

Ellsworth

 


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