June 27, 2019
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Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018: Sabotaging Obamacare helps no one, Belfast salmon farm a gamble, when police use bombs

Health insurance problems

When I got out of law school at age 51, I was nearly broke from paying tuition and had some loans but did have a house that I had sold so had some assets coming. Then I began job-hunting while I prepared for the bar exam.

To my shock I learned that I couldn’t carry over my school health insurance, under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, so spent a few years with three different policies in sequence. The last one cost me $250 per month. But my “insurance” covered no doctor visits, medication and paid no hospital bills until they reached $1,000.

A couple of years later, when I was interviewing for a job, I asked my interviewers when my health insurance would begin if I got the job. Because all my interviewers had started their jobs right out of college when they were 21 and healthy, the question surprised them, and they didn’t have an answer. I got the job and learned my insurance would begin within two weeks.

Now I’m hearing about CEOs of health insurance companies who are on the list of those highest paid in the U.S. That’s over almost all banks, tech companies, oil companies and other industry CEOs. And the private health insurance companies administrative expenses often exceed 20 percent, while Medicare expenses are about 2 percent.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Pat Shalhoob

South Berwick

When police use bombs

Caitlin Rogers’ Aug. 28 article about the bombing of a home in Dixmont had a list of other law enforcement efforts that involved bombing a residence to end a stand-off with armed residents.

The article did not include any mention of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia on May 13, 1985. The police moved on the house occupied by the African-American MOVE commune. Arriving with arrest warrants for four residents of the house, the police ordered them to come out peacefully. Before long, shooting began.

In response to gunfire from inside the house, more than 500 police officers discharged over 10,000 rounds of ammunition in 90 minutes. The house was hit with high-pressure fire-hoses and tear gas, but MOVE did not surrender.

Despite pleas for de-escalation to the mayor from City Council President Joseph Coleman and state Sen. Hardy Williams, Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor gave the order to bomb the house.

By the time it was extinguished four hours later, 61 houses had been razed. The 11 deaths included MOVE founder John Africa, five adults and five children between the ages of 7 and 13. I am not aware that in any of these situations the use of bombs have ever proved to be a better solution.

Michael Grunko

Chebeague Island

Salmon farm a gamble

I believe that the Belfast city councilors have the best intentions regarding Nordic Aquafarms. The increased tax revenue could be used for many improvements. However, I would rather see this tax revenue come from a company that isn’t going to use enormous amounts of water, and one that is using proven technology. If a solar farm were proposed for that area, I’d be thrilled, it’s a win-win. If Mathews Brothers wanted to expand, I’d be all for it.

The Belfast city councilors are gambling with our tax dollars, the Little River watershed, and the health of Penobscot Bay, in hopes that the fish factory will succeed and bring in higher tax revenue. If you add unknown factors resulting from climate change, this becomes an even bigger gamble.

“People are starting to run out of water,” Ryan Gordon, hydrogeologist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said in a Bangor Daily News article last month about drought conditions. “It’s going to affect more people as drought [conditions] for the third summer in a row cover a lot of the state. … The long-term effect is going to be on the groundwater. [Southern Maine] is one of the slowest places where water is replaced.”

Our city planners are smart, dedicated people, and I think they can find less risky ways to help Belfast grow.

Sally Brophy


Sabotaging Obamacare helps no one

Americans with pre-existing conditions are seeing changes to their health insurance coverage. I have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a chronic blood cancer that does not have a cure but is treatable. I will live the rest of my life with this pre-existing condition.

Congress and the Trump administration have repeatedly promised to protect health care coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, actions speak much louder than words. Since late last year, they have taken several steps to slowly eliminate coverage for millions of Americans. In President Donald Trump’s first year in office alone, 3.2 million Americans lost access to health insurance.

While many steps have been taken to undermine the Affordable Care Act, the law is exceedingly resilient and still offers health insurance plans that cover everyone. The ACA offers the best quality coverage for the money and will meet the medical needs of patients.

All Americans need health care coverage with reasonable premiums, protections for pre-existing conditions and health benefits with an adequate network of providers. Sabotaging the ACA will not achieve those goals. We must continue to defend and maintain protections for those with pre-existing conditions when it comes to health insurance.

Allen Grossman


Kavanaugh’s nomination a disaster

The rushed process orchestrated by Senate Republicans with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court will no doubt result in his confirmation, and it will be a disaster for our republic.

He has shown himself to be against reproductive rights for women, and with him on the court we will surely lose Obamacare, leaving millions without health care coverage. Then there is the question as to whether a president accused of obstruction of justice and campaign finance crimes should be able to nominate someone who may sit in judgment of him? And there is little question about how he will vote because he has already said that he doesn’t think a president should be subject to prosecution while in office and has an expansive view of presidential powers.

Given the president we have, that is a frightening prospect. Shame on the Republican senators, our own Sen. Susan Collins included, who have put their own agendas ahead of the preservation of our democracy. We will not forget.

Carolyn Bower



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