March 11, 2010

THURSDAY OPINIONHealth care should be federalized

Eliminating Profits

— Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a single-payer health reform bill to the Senate on April 1. It is in sharp contrast to the plan from the White House, and those presented by Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., which preserve a central role for the private insurance industry.

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Rescue personnel load a wounded person into an ambulance outside the Fulton County Courthouse, Friday morning, March 12, 2005, in downtown Atlanta. A judge presiding over a rape trial, his court stenographer and a sheriff's deputy were shot to death Friday at the Fulton County Courthouse, authorities said. Another deputy was critically wounded and the suspect, the defendant at the trial, remained at large hours later. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ben Gray)

AP

In contrast, Sanders' new legislation will cover all of the 46 million Americans who lack coverage by eliminating deductibles and restoring free choice of physician. Some of its features include:

n Patients go to any doctor or hospital of their choice.

n The program is paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund, amounting to modest new taxes totaling to less than what people are spending for insurance and out-pocket-expenses.

n Coverage for dental, mental health care and prescription drugs.

n While federally funded, the program will be administered by states.

n By eliminating profits made by private insurance companies, along with burdensome paperwork now required by physicians, hospitals, other providers, the plan will save at least $400 billion annually.

n Community health centers are fully funded, giving 60 million Americans now living in rural and under served areas access to care.

n And the bill provides resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals to fulfill urgent needs.

The plan is favored by Quentin Young, M.D., former president of the American Public Health Association and Physicians for a National Health Program.

John Radebaugh, M.D.

Falmouth

As a small-business owner who provides for myself at age 64, health-care reform is my No. 1 issue. I own a bed and breakfast in West Falmouth.

The cost of health-insurance coverage has crippled me due to a pitiful insurance policy that paid only one-quarter of my breast cancer surgeries. Social Security and part-time job hunting (rejections mostly), are my only form of income outside a seasonal B&B.

The collection agencies of all the hospitals have me on automatic dial such that I do not answer the phone anymore for fear I have to stutter and stammer to a robot-type person who is looking to hear me make a commitment to $10 a month for the rest of my life!

With all the high costs of maintaining my home, job and very basic needs, that $10 is just not there. This is shocking to me on a daily basis.

I have worked all my life. I am realistic now. I know I must work now until I die. I am a college-plus graduate and have raised two children into lawyer and doctor status (they owe gazillions in education loans, so they can not help me). I have been independent for 16 years. But my life is now limited.

Donna Little

West Falmouth

I'm directly affected by the high cost of health care as a small-business owner in Maine. I was pleased to see in President Obama's speech that health-care reform is a top priority for him.

He predicted that by the year's end the high cost of health care could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes and said that health care costs cause a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds.

I am angered that this system creates incredible wealth for health industry executives that is built on the back of working people who just want to be able to take care of themselves and their families.

Health industry corporations spend millions of dollars of lobbying and making federal candidate donations. Their aim is to make a profit rather than assure that all people can afford health care.

Because of this, it is necessary for the government to guarantee the option of quality, affordable health care for all.

Anna Maria Tocci

Portland

Time to close expensive, underused Casco Bay High

The Portland School Committee and Acting Superintendent Jeanne Whynot-Vickers still don't get it!

To cut the Portland school budget you must consolidate. The student body is shrinking -- the grammar schools are being consolidated.

Why are we not doing the same at the high school level? We continuously take resources and finances from Portland and Deering high schools to accommodate Casco Bay High School.

This high school has not met its student quota even when including out-of-district students.

CBHS was started on a grant and Portland taxpayers have picked up the tab since the money ran out years ago.

Why do we continue to take staff, resources and financing away from two of the largest high schools in the state to accommodate a select few?

Portland Arts and Technology High School does an excellent job of preparing students for a trades and training for jobs.

The Portland School Committee now wants to take federal stimulus funds to hire needed staff. What happens when the stimulus funds are gone? Portland taxpayers will again pick up the tab.

Consolidate CBHS into Portland and Deering high schools. Free the much-needed staff, resources and finances and start saving Portland taxpayers money.

Theresa Nappi

Portland

When Red Claws take floor, will they suffer for that name?

I had to chuckle over the name chosen for the new D League basketball team in Portland.

Guess the Red Claws are licked before they start -- everyone knows a good lobster claw is ''cooked.''

Maybe the logo will be green, in keeping with the ''rookie'' status of the players. Either way, red or green, it sounds like they are destined to be ''toast.'' Lobster Newburg, anyone?

But with any luck, it might even encourage a return of the old Boston Lobsters tennis team.

That made sense to me.

Stacy Stevens

Yarmouth

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