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Wednesday, May 15, 2013: Dental care, east-west transportation and tar sands


Complex dental practice

I am a young dentist practicing in Maine. I am opposing LD 1230 and am honestly offended by the defamatory tone used toward dentists in the recent OpEds in the BDN.

Like many people, I had heard there was a shortage of dentists in Maine, and as such I assumed there would be plenty of patients lined up to see me, but in fact that was not the case. I worked in a community health center for more than two years.

It amazed me that the no-show rate for my MaineCare patients was so high. This was despite the fact that coverage for adults with pain or infection included most dental procedures (root canals, fillings and extractions). The clinic was centrally located and even has a bus stop in the parking lot, making it very accessible.

Most of my patients had very complex medical and dental histories. Even with my years of advanced dental education, I found it very challenging to treat this population. I learned very quickly that no procedure is simple, especially an extraction.

Dentistry is not easy, and 500 hours of training beyond a hygiene degree is nowhere near sufficient to then allow someone to do dentistry on anyone, especially not a child or medically complex adult.

I can promise that the establishment of a mid-level provider will both fragment and decrease the quality of dental care. It will be a deterrent to any dentist considering moving to Maine, including the dentists who will be graduating from the University of New England’s College of Dental Medicine every year.

Benjamin Phillips


East-west thinking

In all the talk about the potential east-west highway, I have been puzzled by Cianbro Corp.’s strong advocacy. I have always thought of its chief executive officer as an innovative, forward-thinking man, but in this case, he seems to be looking backward to the past rather than forward.

In the 20th century, highways and trucks looked to be the “wave of the future,” but this is no longer the case. With energy prices bound to rise, and fuel becoming scarcer, trucking bulk goods will become outmoded.

Already, rail transport is a more efficient way to move such cargoes and I believe will become even more so.

So, if Cianbro is interested in promoting the shipment of bulk goods from Eastport or the Canadian Maritimes to the Midwest, what they ought to be doing is everything they can to ensure that the existing rail line across Maine is in the best possible shape to handle the freight.

They should not be throwing money at old-fashioned, inefficient truck transport.

William A. Haviland

Deer Isle

Hospital “piracy”

The initiative to make health care costs more transparent is a good start. However, justification for these hospital charges is even more important because at the end of the day they determine how expensive insurance costs are.

Time Magazine’s March issue, called “The Bitter Pill” details medical provider and supplier rip-offs. The article notes that chargemaster rates are not based upon any true cost reality but on what the traffic will bear.

Medical provider overcharges push up public and private insurance costs, the article said. These costs result in the flat funding of state health insurance, rising health care debt bankruptcies and MaineCare cuts.

We need a return of the Maine Health Care Finance Commission to compel health care providers to justify their inflated charges and bring them back to true cost reality. The right questions are not being asked either in Augusta or Washington because the health care provider lobbies don’t want them to be asked. Piracy is piracy, whether it is transparent or not.

Tim Bolton


Wilson’s leaks

As someone who attended the May 6 hearing on the tar sands moratorium before the legislative natural resources committee in Augusta, I came away rather impressed by the tactics employed by the president and chief executive officer of Portland Pipeline Corp., Larry Wilson.

Had I been a supporter of big oil, I would have been proud. But in spite of the claims he made concerning his company’s “almost” perfect safety record, testimony at the hearing indicated there were still around 234 leaks or “anomalies” by them in the past.

Plus, it was mentioned by other pro-oil people that there are roughly 3,000 reported leaks in the state each year. And this isn’t even tar sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet.

I’m sure that companies like British Petroleum can tell us how great their safety record is, too. But it was Wilson who categorized the indigenous people, who live around the tar sands mines as adapting by using tar sands pitch to patch their canoes, as patronizing.

He didn’t mention that these people couldn’t eat the fish or drink the water. Wilson, who said both he cared for the environment and that we need to get used to living in an oil economy, may like a clean back yard, but the environment extends beyond his backyard. It extends to the desecration of indigenous Boreal Forest Region in Alberta. And we’re all downstream.

Tom Newman

Southwest Harbor

Game Loft supporter

If readers are not familiar with The Game Loft, it’s a Belfast nonprofit whose mission is to help kids learn to love education, instill an ethic of community service and develop important skills through the use of non-electronic games.

In 1999-2000, I had the honor of being The Game Loft’s first Volunteers in Service to America volunteer.

I was well into my own adulthood when I did my VISTA year, but it changed my life. I learned how important it was to me to be part of the solution and not part of the problem and to make my community a better place.

I’ve watched the Game Loft kids I worked with grow into amazing men and women. They’re leaders and organizers; they’ve made careers; they’re better parents, friends and community servants.

Now a donor has stepped forward with a $3,000 matching grant: If The Game Loft can raise $3,000, the donor will contribute his or her own $3,000, and our contributions will be doubled. Please donate online at The Game Loft’s website, www.thegameloft.org, or send a check to The Game Loft, 78A Main Street, Belfast ME 04915. Designate your donation for the matching donor challenge.

This is an organization that has made me a better human being.

Jane A. Kelley


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