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Tuesday, September 10, 2019: Not all churches support people’s veto efforts, surprise medical bills, questions about BDN reporting

Not all churches support people’s veto efforts

Some media coverage of conservative Christian groups’ recent efforts to collect signatures for people’s vetoes leaves the impression that all churches oppose new laws expanding women’s access to reproductive health care and banning the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, tens of thousands of faithful people here in Maine support these laws. When our democratically elected Legislature considered these bills, the Maine Council of Churches, whose seven member denominations (Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Quaker, United Church of Christ, Methodist and Unitarian Universalist) represent 417 congregations and 55,000 parishioners, testified in favor of expanding women’s access to abortion services, and in favor of banning the discredited practice of conversion “therapy.”

By comparison, the conservative Christian Civic League and others are running campaigns at houses of worship and in neighborhoods to gather enough signatures to force a people’s veto to stop the laws from going into effect. Though some might think signing these petitions is “in the interest of democracy,” democracy was already at work when our elected legislators voted on and passed the bills.

Our Legislature took a giant step forward this year to ensure that all Mainers, no matter where you live or what kind of insurance you have, can access safe and affordable reproductive health care — including abortion — and to ensure that the LGBTQ youth of Maine are protected from the harm so-called conversion therapy perpetrates.

Let’s not allow a few extreme groups to take that away.

Jane Field

Executive Director

Maine Council of Churches

Portland

Surprise medical bills

I am writing today to urge Sen. Susan Collins to support Sen. Bill Cassidy’s “baseball arbitration” approach to ending surprise medical billing. By ensuring both providers and patients are protected from “surprise billing’s” financial impact, Maine’s hospitals, community health centers and rural health clinics will be able to continue to provide quality health care to Mainers across the State.

I am encouraged that the Senate has been looking at ways to end the practice of surprise billing. I am worried that a bill reported out of the Senate HELP Committee, sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, will make it even harder to keep providers in our state.

I have personally experienced, as I’m sure most Mainer’s have as well, arriving at the local hospital only to be pointed toward Bangor or Portland or Boston for care because the local facility did not have the necessary health care professionals on staff to provide the needed care. If Sen. Alexander’s “benchmarking” system is adopted, health care facilities across the state will lose personnel because the so called “benchmark” approach will lead to the creation of a default floor for reimbursement for providers. And we all know that as a small rural state, the reimbursement rate will be lower in Maine, as well as other rural states due to the wide spread fallacy that it costs less to provide health care in rural areas.

Please ask Collins to support Cassidy’s proposal to benefit both the patient and the provider.

Scott Brann

Chelsea

Questions about BDN reporting

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but two recent stories in the BDN have me questioning reality.

First, the front page declared, in a large, top-of-the page headline, that major labor unions in Maine that previously backed Sen. Susan Collins are now undecided for 2020. Read the story, however, and you realize that there’s no news here. The reason the unions are “undecided” is simply because they haven’t made a decision about an election that remains 14 months away. Just as the College of Cardinals is undecided about who the next Pope will be… that’s not news.

It is news, however, that labor unions who typically back Democrats would even consider endorsing a Republican.

Most recently, this newspaper printed a n editorial about Maine’s desperate need for a $100 million investment in our state’s crumbling roads and bridges. Days later, Collins delivers big — bringing the nation’s Transportation Secretary here to announce a $61 million grant to replace eight failing bridges statewide. But this was merely a mention buried deep below a headline focusing instead on President Donald Trump. I’m not sure Indiana Jones himself could have found this spectacular news.

Is this just inexperienced reporting, or is something else going on?

Doug Damon

Bangor

 

 



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