Improving health care

The passing of the 21st Century Cures Act is a tremendous step forward for so many crucial areas of our health care community. It is essential to ensuring that people in Maine and throughout the country gain access to vital health care resources and cutting-edge treatments. Moreover, it secures funding to expand research opportunities for our doctors and scientists so they are able to pursue innovative treatment and prevention strategies.

In particular, I commend U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for ensuring that part of the law’s funds will go directly toward combatting the opioid abuse epidemic that has become a public health crisis in our state. My prior work in the mental health field makes these issues evermore personal. Aggressively pursuing prevention and recovery programs for individuals affected by opioid abuse is a step in the right direction toward ensuring the safety and stability of our communities.

Additionally, the 21st Century Cures Act secures funding for expanded research of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and cancer. Encouraging further research into treatments, preventions and, hopefully, cures to these diseases will directly improve our country’s well-being for patient care and fiscal responsibility.

Collins’ leadership has directly affected the lives of Mainers for the better. Congress made the right decision in passing the 21st Century Cures Act, and I look forward to our country’s continued dedication to improving our health care system.

Chapin Scaggs

Orono

Rooftop solar democratizes energy

Professor Richard Schmalensee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues in his Dec. 20 BDN OpEd that Maine should focus on “the most effective and efficient way to grow renewable energy.” That’s an unsurprising theory for an economist to be espousing, but Maine has other values to consider.

For instance, last year the state’s highest court upheld regulators’ decision to reject a wind farm permit application because the turbines would compromise scenic views. No doubt, Maine consumers would have benefited from the project’s economical energy, but they can’t afford to be so single-minded. Distributed solar is an attractive resource in part because it is scalable, does not require extensive permitting, and has minimal environmental impacts.

Maine regulators ought to take a broader view about rooftop solar. The state has an innovative law that requires consideration of new technologies, such as solar panels, batteries and smart appliances, whenever the monopoly utility proposes to build a transmission line. Under this law, a groundbreaking project in the Boothbay region has saved Maine consumers millions of dollars, but Central Maine Power has challenged it.

Maine regulators ought to expand the use of distributed energy resources where they can displace utility infrastructure by re-examining rules and practices that provide the century-old CMP with a monopoly over the electric distribution system. Focusing narrowly on rooftop solar compensation while maintaining the status quo of monopoly control risks further handicapping new technologies while ignoring the obstacles that prevent Maine from upgrading to a 21st-century electric grid.

Ari Peskoe

Senior fellow in electricity law

Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative

Somerville, Massachusetts

Take off progressive glasses

The BDN editorial opined on Dec. 21 that voters didn’t give Republicans a mandate to trash Obamacare. Besides bending the outcome of the election, the editorial board is now trying to read voters’ minds?

As liberal as the board is, it even has to boldly declare that it now knows what the voters think. Can’t the board ever just write a piece without looking through progressive glasses?

Rolf Jokiel

Newport

Trump confuses watchdogs

The goal of the incoming president may be up for debate, but his broad strategy is transparent. He means to create so much confusion that political watchdogs will be unable to keep track of it all. A constitutional breach here, a human rights violation there.

The amount of diligence needed to curtail Captain Chaos’ agenda will be enormous. Are we up for the task?

Andrew Funaro

Holden