I was pleased to see both the House and Senate recently approved a one-month patch to keep Medicare paying physicians at their current rate.

However, this is just a patch. I hope that our congressional delegates will work for a longer solution so that our seniors can have peace of mind knowing their doctors won’t drop them because of Medicare’s low payments.

In Maine, one out of five residents rely on Medicare to pay for their health care. If the 25 percent physician payment cut takes place as scheduled in January, there will be more than 260,000 residents at risk of losing access to their doctors.

Right now there are only 14 physicians for every 1,000 Medicare patients — much lower than the national average. If more physicians decide to drop out of Medicare because of a 25 percent cut in payments, this ratio could be further strained.

Medicare is a contract with America. We work and pay into this system expecting that when the time comes, we will have the security of having access to health care and our doctors. Today’s seniors deserve to be able keep their doctors, and Congress has a responsibility to see that they can.

More than a decade ago, Congress developed a flawed system for paying doctors who treat those on Medicare. I know there is not time before the end of the year to find a long-term solution to this problem, but there is time to make sure seniors don’t have to worry about losing their doctors next year.

Preventing this pay cut so seniors can continue seeing their doctors would be at least one meaningful sign that Congress is taking responsibility for its actions.

Meredith Tipton

AARP Executive Council

South Portland

Slaughtering of horses too cruel to be allowed

Horse slaughter is cruel, painful and barbaric. People cut the horses’ throats and hang them to bleed till they die. Horses don’t deserve that. They give us so much and ask for so little. We need to end it. How would you like being the next horse in line?

These horses were put on earth for a reason. Can you imagine all the people out there who are sad because horses are being abused?

Every 10 seconds, 17 horses are slaughtered. Every 10 seconds, 17 horses will no longer be able to gallop the earth free. Every 10 seconds, 17 horses will end their lives in pain.

Help save the next horse in line! I want to make a difference in this world and help end this. I will not sit around and wait for this to end. Please help us end it. The horses need us to speak up. They teach us about love and friendship.

Kayleigh Wolf, 12

South Portland

Smartphone dependence is nothing like addiction

I saw a clip on television news a few days ago where they were asking people if they are “addicted to their smartphone.”

Apparently they didn’t get the rights to say “iPhone,” because everyone they interviewed was holding one. But I digress.

Actually, I’m questioning the use of the word “addicted.”

The question they were really posing is: “Do you use your smartphone a lot?”

They used the word “addicted” to put negative connotations on frequent use of technology that was specifically developed to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

To ask someone if they are “addicted” to their smartphone because they use it a lot is similar to asking someone if they are “addicted” to their car because they drive every day.

The automobile was invented so we didn’t have to walk or ride horses everywhere. Thus we don’t walk or ride horses everywhere.

The smartphone was developed to keep us in touch with people quickly and easily at any time of day whether they are near us or not. Thus we text, e-mail, use Facebook, YouTube and call people quickly and easily any time of day whether the recipient is near us or not. It’s not an addiction; it is using the technology for its exact purpose.

I’m getting tired of the media putting a negative spin on what are, in reality, common advances in technology. Just because it didn’t exist back in your day doesn’t mean today’s kids are lazy. My two cents.

Nick Salve

Old Orchard Beach

Helping hand of state should be for residents

As I sit here writing this letter on how my life has changed, I am still in disbelief.

I have been at the same job for 23 years, but my life took a turn when my husband lost his job — not once but twice — due to layoffs. I had to cash in my retirement to pay the mortgage so I would not lose my home.

At this time he is working and I pray every day that a layoff doesn’t happen again. In my profession I deal with a large population that ends up in the criminal justice system, including some from other states and countries. Many receive government benefits.

Our governor-elect should enforce a residency law like other states, requiring people to live in the state for six months before qualifying for any state benefits. Now, people are told to come to Maine where the system is so slack they can get benefits as soon as they get a post office box.

Welfare was meant to be a helping hand through tough times, not a way of life. I myself needed the system at a tough time in my life until I got on my feet.

Nicola Cox

Cunberland

Dental hygienists stymied in bid to be independent

How would any of us feel if we called a dental office to make an appointment and could only come in at certain times or certain days because we didn’t have the right kind of dental insurance? Wouldn’t that feel pretty awful?

The Maine Board of Dental Examiners is attempting to take away the right of independent practice dental hygienists to see patients with MaineCare. The board wants us to set up a schedule where these Medicaid patients are not allowed to come into the office at the same time as regular paying patients or patients with traditional dental insurance.

At the same time, dentists around the state are becoming less willing to open their doors to these children. Dentists around the state are feeling threatened by hygienists being able to practice independently and are working hard to make sure they are not successful.

Many hygienists who have decided to obtain independent practice licenses are being bullied and forced to sign non-compete agreements. Dentists are putting pressure on the Board of Dental Examiners to extinguish all avenues these hygienists have at being successful.

Please write to the Board of Dental Examiners ([email protected]) and tell them this is wrong.

Traci L. Dempsey

Warren

Tax cuts stir deep feelings

I would like to express my disappointment with President George W. Bush’s choice to give massive tax cuts to the wealthy at a time when our country and its economy were burdened with the cost of the Iraq war. I believe this directly contributed to the collapse of our economic system.

Because of the economic and job market collapse, the masses are suffering and the wealthy are getting wealthier. It would be an atrocity to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest at the cost of those who are suffering so much.

We have an option here to either help those suffering, or to give tax breaks to the wealthy. It is unconscionable to choose the latter, giving tax cuts at the expense of those who are suffering the most.

Our society will judged by the way we treat the most vulnerable.

Jacquie Murphy

Westbrook

I would like to thank Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for standing their ground and supporting an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all. Maine should be thankful that our two senators realize that the economy is still fragile and tax increases of any type will just cause a delay in any sort recovery.

I take offense with the way some of your readers and this newspaper use the extension of tax cuts for a game of class warfare. The extensions are not an additional tax break for anyone, but their expiration would amount to a tax increase for many small businesses and hurt many charitable organizations.

If we as a country expect any type of lasting recovery, the last thing needed is tax increases.

Richard Deister

Buxton

The next few years will be tough for Democrats. But even tea party members should be outraged by congressional Republicans. All 42 Republican senators signed a letter threatening to block every piece of legislation that comes before them, unless the Bush tax cuts are extended for the super-rich.

Maybe you aren’t among the more than 44 million Americans who now live in poverty – the largest number in half a century. Maybe you’ve still got a job, while around you the real rate of joblessness – counting people who are underemployed or have given up looking – is approaching the staggering levels of the Great Depression.

Maybe you’re young enough to recover from the devastation caused by this recession to your savings for retirement. And maybe your home equity hasn’t disappeared because you rent instead of own. But whoever you are, the chances are slim to none that you are among the tiny number of Americans who stand to benefit from a tax cut for the super-rich.

Don’t believe the hype that small businessmen will be hurt if the tax cuts for the rich are not extended.

Any businessman who gets burned should have seen a tax accountant. No, this $700 billion break will benefit only the 1 percent of Americans whose obscene wealth has enabled them to buy the Congress.

Maine has a heritage of distinguished senators. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins should be among them. But they have chosen instead to toady to the privileged few.

Scott Gould

Cape Elizabeth

I’m writing to express my support for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 of taxable income every year. Not only do we need to invest in public services like health care and education for our youth, it is imperative to reinstate unemployment benefits for the 2 million folks struggling to have a decent holiday season.

The deficit and economic collapse are just two direct results of handing a free ride to the wealthiest 2 percent. The gap between commoners and the wealthy is continuing to grow. America needs to be put back to work. As we have waited, these jobs have not appeared. I personally talk to 40 (jobless) people every day.

I am an organizer and have seen with my own eyes the horrors of hard-working people losing everything. Please do the right thing and help spread awareness concerning this issue.

Bryan Dow

Portland

Being very frustrated with the current tax-cut debate in Congress, I submit the following points as fact:

1) The Bush-era tax cuts failed.

2) Tax cuts for the wealthy do not create the kind of jobs needed for a healthy economy, as corroborated by Warren Buffett.

3) The popular conservative mantra “a recession is no time to raise taxes on anyone” is spoken either naively or is deceptively false.

4) A great recession is the best time to have large tax increases on only the wealthy.

5) A great recession is the best time to have tax cuts for only the middle class.

6) The reckless wealthy caused the current financial crisis and should be made to bear the greatest burden of the recovery.

The only fair, responsible and righteous way out of the current financial mess is to raise taxes on only the wealthy until the books are balanced. Then, and only then, can we resume the normal rules of an economic policy.

Hopefully at that time we will have learned our lesson and no longer let the puppeteers run our government, while holding our elected officials responsible to properly tax and regulate the wealthy so as not to repeat this crisis.

Mark Forsyth

South Berwick

When are good working folks in this country going to join their allies in France, England and Ireland and demand that their pay, benefits and jobs not be cut or eliminated?

The latest blow is to federal civilian workers, who now face a pay freeze for the next two years as the Obama administration refuses to stand up and fight for higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Each day I witness more good things falling away from more people in this country as the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck continue to spout their lies and misinformation about what is really happening.

People of good will must stand together, organize, open our big mouths and exercise our constitutional rights before we lose them all.

Barbara Doughty

Portland