Close the coverage gap

Gov. Paul LePage frequently lectures the poor to pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but his policies force many Mainers out of the workforce. As has been documented by proponents of the Medicaid expansion, refusing to give access to Mainers seeking health care actually causes many of them to become unemployed.

I am one such person. I would love to be in the workforce full time, but my bad back, diabetes and other medical conditions make it nearly impossible for me to get through the day. Try as I do, I go to work part time and remain in tremendous physical pain for days after each shift. This keeps me chronically underemployed, and being underemployed is what keeps me in the health insurance coverage gap.

My story is not at all unique. There are documented stories of Mainers struggling with everything from severe asthma to bipolar disorder and from ovarian cysts to addiction who have been forced to quit jobs or reduce hours because working full time without access to medications or regular doctor’s visits is not medically possible for them.

That’s why Maine should take the opportunity this year to close the coverage gap. Seventy thousand Mainers would suddenly have accessible health care, and many of them would see drastic and sudden improvements in their health and in their quality of life. I want to be in the workforce full time, get out and do something more productive with my day, take care of my family and pay my taxes.

John Morrell

Bangor

Fund Maine Clean Elections

Our Maine Clean Elections initiative struggles for funding that would make it even more attractive to candidates to run for office and not have to worry about the “dialing for dollars” humiliation that consumes a lot of lawmakers’ time. Mainers approved the measure years ago and voted to expand it last November, so what’s the problem?

As responsible residents of Maine, we must ask ourselves: Why would anyone choose to beg from big dollar donors instead of choosing a level playing field, without the deck being stacked against them by what’s revealed to be a fundamentally corrupt process? Then we must ask ourselves: Wouldn’t it be better for American democracy at all levels if citizens didn’t have to worry that the people who get elected might be working for the big dollar donors instead of for we the people?

As one very concerned American, I ask that you check up on who is trying to make clean look bad and what their motives might be. Then, contact your representative and senator immediately and ask them to restore funding in our budget for our Clean Elections. There is not a moment to waste.

Seabury Lyon

Bethel

Stop universal background checks

Informed voters are coming to realize that the upcoming 2016 universal gun background check referendum includes a toxic “poison pill” — the de facto handgun ban for young people ages 18 to 20. This is because of a fundamental incompatibility between the referendum, federal and Maine laws. There is no “fix” for this.

If passed, the referendum would prohibit private gun transfers without a gun dealer-administered background check. Gun dealers, however, are prohibited by federal law from transferring a handgun to anyone under 21 years old. Yet, under Maine law, adults 18 and older can own a handgun and apply for a concealed carry permit. Currently, this incompatibility between federal and state law is resolved via responsible private gun sales. But that would all change if voters were to pass the referendum.

On March 23, Colin Goddard, a spokesman for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, stood before a college-age audience at the University of Maine in Orono and asked for help to promote the referendum. Whether he realized it or not, he also was asking his audience to vote away their right to have a handgun transferred to them. It takes a lot of ignorance and chutzpah to request something like that from impressionable college students that would be directly affected by this.

Maine voters can put a stop to this freedom-robbing deception by voting no on the universal background check referendum.

Alex Giger

Naples

Expand access to addiction treatment

The bill to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds, LD 633, goes to the state Senate for a vote this week. Passage of this bill would provide affordable insurance to nearly 70,000 low-income Mainers, opening up access to primary and preventive health care, substance abuse and mental health treatment. For those in the depths of addiction, this access could literally save their life.

Medicaid, private insurance, private pay and charity care are the gates through which people with addictions can access outpatient treatment programs of 30 days or longer that offer important treatment, such as counseling and medication-assisted withdrawal. People suffering from addiction who do not qualify for Medicaid without Maine’s acceptance of the expansion can only hope that charity care is available. Charity care, however, is limited, and places the cost burden on treatment programs and is associated with high rates of relapse. Cuts in Medicaid and the continued failure to accept federal funds have kept the uninsured from accessing treatment while simultaneously putting heavy financial strain on existing programs.

Accepting millions of federal dollars and improving accessibility to affordable health care is the most direct, financially responsible, affordable and effective way to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment to Maine’s uninsured population while supporting the treatment programs on the front lines.

Passage of LD 633 is a critical step toward getting a handle on Maine’s opioid addiction epidemic. Mainers should contact their legislators today to ask them to support LD 633.

Kate Kinney

Orono

How can people support Clinton?

Would Hillary Clinton supporters still support her if it was their brother, son or grandson lying dead in Benghazi, Libya, after being murdered? If your answer is yes, I am sorry you think so little of your family. If your answer is no, why are you supporting her now?

John McCready

Hodgdon