Let me get this straight. Gov.-elect Paul LePage has asked incoming Attorney General William Schneider to join one of the lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare for some of you).

The rationale for doing so is that the individual mandate portion of that law (effective in 2014 )is unconstitutional. In articulating that position, LePage’s spokesman was quoted as saying, “You represent 1.3 million people and if there is a case to be made, you voice your opinion and join the fight.”

I guess it doesn’t really matter that more than six out of 10 voters rejected LePage in November. I guess it doesn’t matter that LePage pledged to put “Maine people before politics.” I guess it doesn’t matter that LePage campaigned on a platform of eliminating unnecessary spending (joining this lawsuit is not free – far from it).

Constitutional or not, Maine’s voice in litigating this matter is less than inconsequential other than the fact that it appeases the tea party crowd and the “Obama, go to hell” mentality that seems to be on its way to Augusta.

Perhaps, the new attorney general can make a real statement and challenge Social Security, Medicare, health care for veterans or any other federal mandate that isn’t explicitly in the Constitution. Why stop with the Affordable Care Act?

Charles McNutt

Buxton

 

Recently, Gov.-elect Paul LePage stated that he would be willing to have Maine join a lawsuit to overturn the federal health reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Taking this step would be expensive – outgoing Attorney General Janet Mills has estimated the cost at $400,000 – something always worth considering, but especially in times of rather scarce resources.

One reason why Mr. LePage says he opposes the ACA is that it limits what states can do in terms of health policy.

However, one of the provisions of the ACA enables states to put forward their own means of delivering health coverage. Starting in 2017, states could propose alternative ways of covering the same percentage of state residents.

In addition, there is another potential path forward. There is a bipartisan bill called the Empowering States to Innovate Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., which would enable states to pursue alternative approaches in 2014.

Rather than setting up the health care exchanges required by the ACA in 2014 and then changing to something else, if this were passed the state could go right to its own system. The state could pursue a wide range of policy options, including a system without any individual mandate or one with a public option.

This would not just give the state autonomy to design its health care plan. Compared to filing a lawsuit, passing this bill would be far less expensive and likely far more effective in producing a different sort of health policy than that defined by the ACA.

If Mr. LePage and Maine citizens like the Empowering States to Innovate Act, they should encourage our federal elected officials to support it.

Amy Fried

Bangor

 

Your readers were done a disservice by the story on whether Maine will join the lawsuit to overturn the federal health care act. It takes a wrong turn in the sixth paragraph, which states that Republicans “warn it will drive up medical costs and burden taxpayers” (Dec. 5).

The Government Accountability Office has made clear that the truth is just the opposite, and that fact should have been the next and last sentence in the paragraph.

By their failure to mention it, reporters Tom Bell and Glenn Jordan give the impression that both viewpoints are equally valid.

By making stories like this consist of a few opening background facts followed by quotes from opposing sources, you leave your readers to figure out whose statements are factual. Journalism’s primary responsibility is to enable readers to make judgments and decisions for themselves. This kind of reporting (or editing) is exactly why so many Americans are vulnerable to the rantings of junk news commentators.

How was this overlooked? Fairness is one thing, but this is truly a sin of omission.

Edward Hobler

Portland

Voters got Dems’ message, and that’s why they were turned out

 

Greg Kesich recently asserted his opinion that “a lack of clarity hurt the Democrats in the last election” (“Cynthia Dill offers ‘loyal opposition’ with an emphasis on opposition,” Dec. 8).

In my opinion, too much clarity hurt the Democrats. People clearly caught on to the fact that the majority Democrats were acting in an arrogant manner, spending the peoples’ money as if it were their money to spend, and not listening to the feedback when the people were saying stop.

The column shines a light on that, even though that obviously was not the intent.

Tom Elliman

Chairman, Republican City Committee

Portland

Wreath project restores faith in American youth

 

I was spiritually uplifted to see the pleasing picture of the Cheverus High School students leading the procession of wreaths into their gymnasium in preparation for a send-off to Arlington National Cemetery. The headline, “Wreaths for the fallen,” was very appropriate.

This wonderful gesture rekindles and strengthens my belief in the American way.

We, the people of Maine, should be proud of these neatly attired and forward-looking young people. It is the embodiment of fundamental principles that will keep our country strong and vibrant.

This is the kind of news reporting that we receive with open arms.

Russell H. Day

Shapleigh