Implement Medicaid expansion

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration refuses to implement Medicaid expansion, passed by Maine voters in November. People should be able to get care on July 2, and preparation needs to be happening right now.

As a newly retired medical social worker, I know that Medicaid expansion is desperately needed by 70,000 Mainers. I worked with people who go without medical care and only go to the emergency room when in crisis. Hospitals are required to give them treatment regardless of ability to pay and must absorb those costs.

These patients are often forced to choose between medical treatment, medications, food or paying their rent. Many need this coverage for preventive and routine health care, and for some this coverage is really a matter of life or death.

At the State House recently, patients told what it is like to be sick and without health care coverage. One had a long career cut short by workplace injuries and now can’t afford follow-up care. Another delays visits to the doctor, despite worrisome symptoms, becoming at risk for further illness, perhaps even death. This is unacceptable.

The surplus in the Maine budget this year could be used to fund Medicaid expansion in 2018 and 2019. In addition, Medicaid expansion will generate $700 million in new economic activity yearly, create more than 6,000 jobs and support rural hospitals and clinics. I urge our governor and legislators to do the right thing and do it now.

Kathryn A. Kreamer

Belfast

GOP policies

I supported and voted for Susan Collins in 2002 and 2008. Since then, both our political parties have become vastly more partisan and have demonstrated a remarkable deterioration in regard to integrity and trustworthiness.

The Republican Party differs sharply from the Democratic Party in three critical areas.

The first is the Republican Party’s denial of the causes of climate change and subsequent support of policies that obstruct efforts implemented by local, state and international communities that would mitigate the effects of climate change. A stand is needed for our planet and for future generations by encouraging the party to support the U.S. rejoining the Paris climate accord.

The second is the Republican Party’s embrace of the values and rhetoric of the National Rifle Association and the subsequent inability for common-sense gun laws to be passed. A stand is needed for our school children and other innocent citizens by working to repeal the Dickey Amendment, which has effectively stopped the CDC from researching gun violence.

The third is the Republican Party’s apparent lack of concern about Russian meddling in our elections and the subsequent inaction in regard to protecting the integrity of future elections. A stand is needed for our democratic process by supporting policies that will help reduce foreign influence in our elections for 2018 and beyond.

My three teenagers are amazed and dismayed that a political party that embraces climate change denial, the NRA and Russia is in firm control of their future. They have many friends who share their dismay.

Joshua Gear

York

An attack on citizen initiatives

The Maine Legislature is again attempting to limit the Maine citizen petition process. It is no secret that Gov. Paul LePage and some members of the Maine House and Senate are not happy with the citizen petition process. They feel that the time-consuming process for gathering signatures is too easy for out-of-state interests with money.

LD 31 is a proposed amendment to the Maine Constitution that would require that the number of signatures from each congressional district be not less than 10 percent of the total vote for governor cast in that congressional district in the previous gubernatorial election. This will pit northern Maine against southern Maine, much to the delight of some legislators whose only goal is to slow down or even eliminate the citizen petition process.

Apparently, the will of the people must be thwarted at all costs as the people of northern Maine, presumably more conservative than those in southern Maine, could conceivably stop a petition from being put in front of the voters. We need to remember that no matter who puts a petition on the ballot, all of the people have an opportunity to vote. When we start rigging the system to prevent certain issues from reaching the ballot box, we are undermining democracy.

Let’s not let this happen. The citizen petition process has worked well in Maine for more than 100 years. Contact your elected officials and urge them to vote no on LD 31. Your voice matters.

Val Philbrick

Scarborough