Sen. Olympia Snowe singles out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the “divisiveness and bickering” (“Snowe faults Reid, Pelosi for blocking health bill changes,” March 30) in the successful passage of the national health reform bill.

It is difficult to understand Snowe’s fundamental opposition when Joe Ditre, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care says, “… the final law is not all that different from the bill produced by Snowe and the other bipartisan negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee.”

What part does she oppose?

No setting lifetime limits on coverage?

Coverage of children even if with pre-existing conditions?

Young adults remaining on parents’ plan until age 26?

Tax credits for small businesses to offer coverage?

Higher taxes for families with income higher than $250,000?

Mandated coverage regardless of medical condition, a person’s sex or health status?

Snowe’s distinguished predecessor, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, exercised extraordinary leadership by confronting the apocalyptic rhetoric and reckless accusations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy: “It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques – techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.”

That speech dramatically changed the acrimonious climate of debate at that time.

If Sen. Snowe would have delivered this identical speech, substituting the words “health care for all citizens” for the words “national security,” she might then have stood proudly on the platform in Portland on Thursday with President Barack Obama to celebrate this milestone.

Robert F. Lyons

Kennebunk

 

Regarding your front-page piece on Sen. Olympia Snowe’s opposition to the recently passed health care bill, I for one am weary of her thread-bare line that she could not in good conscience support it because the Democratic leadership in both houses insisted on including – or excluding – this or that amendment.

No one is maintaining that the legislation is perfect, that it couldn’t be enhanced by various alterations, or that it is a panacea guaranteeing the perpetual well-being of everyone in the country.

The law is, however, a sound starting point for improving health care in America.

Further, I wish Sen. Snowe would abandon her sanctimonious monopoly on right answers. She has been a diligent public servant for the state of Maine for many years, but she is still as far from omniscience as any of us.

Alex Severance

Brunswick

 

Sen. Olympia Snowe, in her complaints about Democrats blocking changes to the new health care law, has illustrated perfectly a truism of Washington politics: If members of Congress are given the chance to vote on both sides of an issue, they’ll do it every time.

The senator voted for the health reform bill in committee but against it in the full Senate, thus taking her place with the Party of No.

Not only that, but in the interview with your editorial board, she turned to another proven tactic. She changed the subject. It’s not about health reform, but about jobs and the economy. That’s right, it’s time to move on.

Alas, Olympia’s vaunted reputation for “independence” has taken another hit.

Gordon A. Glover

South Freeport

 

When Channel 6 covered the recent anti-health bill demonstration in Portland, speaking to the camera was a nurse with “decades of nursing experience.” She said that the hospitals do not refuse to care for any ill person who has no health insurance.

That is true – then when the person is ready for discharge, the nurse reviews the doctor’s discharge orders and prescriptions if needed.

Does the nurse ask if there will be a problem with buying the meds? Will the family be able to do this?

The nurse does not realize that a few days later there will be a bill from the hospital in the mail for services rendered. Does the nurse know what the hospital charges for each and every IV, blood test, X-ray, special studies and medication? A few days’ stay equals thousands of dollars.

Yes, the hospital took care of the patient, but not for free! People go without their medication and lose their homes because they have no health insurance and are unable to pay.

Have Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins spoken to the uninsured?

I’m sure the nurse and the demonstrators have insurance; they care not for their neighbor.

Irene Nelson Welsh, R.N.

York

 

Restricting records access hurts genealogy studies

 

LD 1781 (“An Act To Allow Electronic Filing of Vital Records and Closing of Records to Guard against Fraud and Changes to the Vital Records Laws”) – is heading for passage by the Legislature.

The genealogical community’s efforts to amend it were brushed off and told nothing will change for a genealogist accessing records.

There are potential changes in access the legislators do not see. Vital records are a genealogist’s basic tool. The bill closes vital records for 100 years except for those with a “direct or legitimate interest.”

A list of those who may qualify for such an interest does not include genealogists and could be interpreted as prescribing the only persons with “direct or legitimate interest.” Genealogists research entire families and kinship groups and should be included.

The bill’s title conveys closing vital records will guard against fraud. The loss/theft of one’s wallet, checkbook or laptop, and computer data breaches, not the use of vital records by genealogists, cause ID fraud/theft. The title alone could lead town clerks to restrict the records on their own.

The bill poses an unfair burden on genealogists. The new requirement could force any genealogist to obtain a research identification card.

Such a card currently exists for in-person inspection of vital records at the Office of Vital Records at a cost of $50 a year where certified copies cost $60 per copy.

The wording could be read as extending the requirement to persons accessing vital records at the town or county level where informational copies are available at a more reasonable cost.

People conduct genealogical research because of a basic need to understand and know themselves – medically, psychologically and historically.

The recent PBS series Faces of America and the current NBC series Who Do You Think You Are attests to the interest in genealogy. This bill may even affect tourism as genealogists discontinue family trips to Maine if they see their access to records is closed.

Pam Stone Eagleson

Kennebunk

Helen Shaw

Rockport

 

Smoking ban expansion precursor to many exclusions

 

Years ago it was predicted by some infamous talk show emcee that the fight to ban smoking in restaurants would be only the beginning. Well it has come true, and how.

No smoking in restaurants, bars, schools (teachers’ rooms), public buildings, parks, cars with minor children riding in them, public housing and if possible the state will outlaw it in your homes.

No soda machines in schools, healthy lunches at the schools to fight obesity, and yet we hear thousands of American children here in Maine go hungry. Yet we also have the fattest kids and more and more getting diabetes and suffering high cholesterol.

The fact is that kids spend so much time on buses, getting driven everywhere, sitting for hours playing video games, texting, talking on cell phones and snacking.

Gym became a choice in many schools, recess has become too dangerous so only safe play is allowed. Can’t get a bruise or cut, the school may get sued. Common sense has lost its way in many places, including government, schools and just everyday living.

Janet Romano

Portland

 

Parents are their children’s best teachers and examples

 

I have heard and read several accounts of parents bemoaning the fact that school budgets are being cut. I graduated from college with a degree in social science education and my only experience in teaching was student teaching.

Here is my advice to all parents: Unplug the television and disconnect all computer games and actually spend some time with your children.

In case you did not know them, they are the little people who eat and sleep at your house. You should get to know them. Many of them are smart and are able to communicate.

It is a proven fact that children perform better in school when they see their parents reading. It is another fact that parents are their children’s first teachers.

Somewhere along the line, parents came to believe that educating their children was the job of the schools. No one can teach children better than parents. But parents have abdicated their responsibilities to the schools so they could watch television or do whatever they liked rather than spend time with their children and helping them with their homework.

The best sermon is a good example. If you want to see how your children will look and behave when they are adults, look in a mirror.

James L. Audiffred

Saco

Bicyclists ignore own advice to ‘share the road’ with cars

 

With the erection of additional signs, now in “ghoulish green,” the time has finally come to respond to those cyclists who demand that drivers of motorized vehicles be compelled to “share the road.”

We drivers are of the belief that “share the road” should apply to all who use it.

By law, cyclists must keep to the right and maintain a single file. But how many times have drivers come upon single riders, or multiple riders side-by-side, blocking the travel lane? This is an especially unsettling situation when rounding a blind turn or coming to the brow of a hill.

Even where there are specifically marked bicycle lanes, there are those who feel entitled to “take their half from the middle.” We have seen cyclists check a vehicle coming up behind them, and then continue down the center of the travel lane. How is that “sharing the road”?

We live in a rural area, which seems to bring out even worse actions. I recently encountered a dismounted cyclist standing in the travel lane and checking a hand-held device.

He looked at me and remained in the travel lane, making it necessary for me to enter the opposing lane to avoid and pass him, and was still standing in the travel lane long after I’d gone by.

A truly unpleasant experience was relayed to me by my husband who came upon several cycles lying in our street while their riders (both male and female!) relieved themselves in view of passers-by. In addition, he was “treated” to a smile and a wave by one of the riders.

Cyclists who exhibit such behaviors do not make good representatives for the majority of riders who are considerate. It is because of them that the demands to “share the road” are especially rankling.

Carol Watson

North Yarmouth