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Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012: Affordable Care Act, Social Security and Waterfront Concerts

Affordable care

The Affordable Care Act included a readmissions provision that imposes financial penalties on hospitals for “excess” readmissions when compared to “expected” levels of readmissions. This penalty program will be imposed on hospitals beginning Oct. 1, 2012, based on discharges occurring during the three-year period of July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2011.

The initial payment penalties are based on the 30-day readmission measures for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia that are currently part of the Medicare pay-for-reporting program. Pen Bay Medical Center is one of the 2,211 hospitals that will receive a penalty. The dollar amount of our penalty will be $77,590, which is less than one tenth of one percent of our net revenue.

Preventing readmissions is a systemwide if not communitywide issue that involves hospitals, physicians and other providers who manage patient care. Pen Bay Medical Center is committed to improving quality of care for all patients.

One of the main elements of care that has been instituted to reduce our readmissions, where appropriate, is a risk assessment that is conducted when the patient is admitted to the hospital. Based on the results of this risk assessment, interventions happen during the hospitalization and at discharge. These interventions may include a visit with a nurse transition coach, home health visits, follow up phone calls, medication education, follow up visits with the primary care physician and connecting the patient with our area agency on aging, among other interventions.

Paula Delahanty, RN, BSN, MHSA


Care system broken

I completely agree with Darrell Adams (“Universal health care is the right thing to do”, BDN Aug. 21), however, the Affordable Care Act is an improvement over what currently passes for a health care “system” in the U.S. As a self-employed, healthy — albeit middle-aged — person, there is no such thing as “affordable” health insurance in Maine.

Last year, I took the extreme step of moving to Massachusetts. Romneycare, the prototype for the Affordable Care Act, is a great improvement over what existed previously. It was possible for me to afford health insurance and I was immediately scheduled for age appropriate diagnostic screening. My primary care physician followed up on test results.

For the first time in my adult life, I experienced something resembling “care” in the health care system, rather than the fragmented emergency system that exists for the self-employed and small-business owners of this state. Those who attempt to pay for health care out of pocket are charged a king’s ransom for every visit and procedure.

Why are the self-reliant, self-employed, penalized? Why do Mainers put up with a system so badly broken? America should embrace the Affordable Care Act as a step toward a fairer and more humane health care system.

Laurie Nicholson


Privatization of social security

Since there is such great antipathy to privatization of Social Security, perhaps an alternative would be greeted more favorably. What if we were to use the original funding plan including the original retirement scheme? The latter envisages the date of retirement as later than over 50 percent of life expectancy.

With suitable updates for present life expectancy and subsequent updates every five years or so, that should solve the future expected funding crisis and needs subsequent to that. However, I doubt that future recipients would regard that scheme favorably. My point is that we need to find some scheme of funding which will link Social Security to the wealth of the nation. Privatization if carefully planned should do that.

Hans Schmidt


Deadlock vote

To fill the open senate seat, much has been published about the Republican candidate that indicates that he will not fill the bipartisan spirit of Olympia Snowe. So voting for him is a vote for deadlock.

Angus King has also seen a lot of coverage, both good and not.

What has been missing is information about Cynthia Dill. She just picked up two big backers. But who is she? What is she all about? I’m sure that there are more BDN readers than just me who don’t watch TV.

Ed Barrood


Sick of sounds

When I moved to Bangor in 2005, I was so delighted to find a waterfront that could be enjoyed at all times of year. Small gatherings or special events occasionally took place, and the three-day folk festival at the end of August was the only “big bash” in town. No more. Now many of us are kept away from the waterfront by signs or fences; worse, we are assaulted by noise (in the guise of very loud music) as part of a concert series that has gotten bigger, louder and more objectionable.

I am sick of the concerts, the “music” of which travels the six-plus miles from the waterfront to my home. Groups I never liked keep pounding away. As a Bangor taxpayer, I wonder if the profit from these waterfront concerts is worth the ill will they are producing, and I question the benefit to the taxpayers. The decision to use city property and to take away from the citizens the rights to enjoy that wonderful waterfront by blocking it (“Keep out, this means you!”) is a decision that seems misguided and perhaps lines the pockets of a few special interests who produce or support the concerts, rather than providing a benefit to the city of Bangor.

I am really sick of them. I hope that the people of Bangor who agree with me will let our City Council know how they feel and restore the waterfront to the people who pay for it.

Barbara Sosman


Public employees should be compensated fairly

I’d like to clarify a recent article that appeared in the newspaper (“Democrats question raises for DHHS workers,” Aug. 20).

As one of the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee referenced in the headline, I wanted to make clear that we were questioning why the LePage administration’s was singling out certain workers for raises over others, who have had pay freezes for years. We also questioned Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew about where the money for the raises would come from.

For years state employees and retirees have been asked to make sacrifices in tough economic times for the state. They have done so despite doing more for less. Any new raises should be determined by a fair and transparent process. Our public employees, from our teachers, to our police officers, to our child welfare workers all deserve to be compensated fairly for their hard work.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo


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