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Insurance companies doing just fine

The COVID-19 pandemic has left devastation in its wake. Nearly 30,000 fewer Mainers are working today than a year ago. For low-income Mainers who earn less than $27,000 a year, employment declined 30 percent between February 2020 and February 2021. Many more Mainers are in danger of losing their employer-provided health insurance as businesses lay off workers.

Maine policymakers have an opportunity to step up and help these families, by ensuring for-profit insurance corporations continue to pay their fair share in our state, especially considering that these same insurance corporations continued to rake in billions of dollars in profits during a year of the pandemic. Policymakers should implement a state-based health insurance assessment to replace the federal assessment they had been paying and which expired at the start of this year.

This state-based assessment simply continues the federal one, and the assessment should go toward reducing the overall cost of health care for low- and middle-income families in Maine. This state-based assessment can help reduce expensive premiums, end out-of-pocket costs and keep prescription drug costs down.

While Mainers are hurting, for-profit insurance corporations are not. On Jan. 20, the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, reported its full-year 2020 profit of $15.4 billion. For 2020, Humana reported $ 3.1 billion, a 25 percent increase over the company’s 2019 profits. Cigna earned $8.5 billion in profits, a more than 60 percent increase from the company’s profits of $5.1 billion for 2019.

Let’s put people ahead of insurance industry profits and make insurance companies pay their fair share.

Ellen Blye, M.D.

Friendship

Advice from Ben Bradlee

What are we teaching our children? Following today’s news would lead one to believe that a good portion of our population now believes more in lies than in the truth. What a sad, corrupt future this forebodes!

Ben Bradlee, a famous Washington Post editor during the Watergate scandal, when we dealt with another questionable president, said it best: “The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men free.”

The majority of the Republican Party would do well to stop and reflect on this advice.

Roger Martin

Hampden

Protect children from gun violence

In Maine, these headlines tell a story:

Police: 2-year-old West Bath boy shot parents after finding gun on nightstand.”

Toddler fighting for her life after shooting at Bangor residence.”

Elise Dorr, 5, shot to death in Scarborough family mome.”

8-year-old boy fatally shoots himself while handling father’s gun in Maine.”

Boy Accidentally Shoots Himself in Hand with Pistol in Pittston.”

16-year-old New Sharon boy accidentally shoots, kills self during video chat.”

Boy shoots himself playing with a gun in Lewiston.”

Waterville 2-year-old in critical condition after being shot in the head.”

A 16-year-old arrested, charged after West Paris shooting incident.”

The trauma of gun violence, whether unintentional or intentional, is deep and long lasting. When children obtain guns, they have to get them from somewhere — and usually that is from an adult gun owner. Requiring secure storage will help protect our children.

Maine has a high rate of gun ownership. Maine gun owners pride themselves on being responsible. Securely storing firearms around children is the responsible thing to do. Just like we enacted laws requiring seat belts, we need reforms to encourage a behavior shift so every single gun owner is proactively thinking about how their guns are stored around children and are taking steps to prevent a child’s access to them without their knowledge.

I urge the legislature to pass LD 759 to protect our children and communities from gun violence.

Kathleen McFadden

Volunteer

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Gouldsboro