October 8, 2013

Letters to the editor: Hospital's finances need to be public

Greg Kesich’s column “New Augusta hospital shows flaws in how we pay for health care” (Oct. 2) touches the central issue of the health care discussion. While “who pays?” captures national headlines, “how much is paid?” is equally important.

A reader says hospital finances should be more transparent, especially information about how much is actually charged and paid for services.

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Steven Brill’s major article in Time Magazine on March 4 (“Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us”) provided a template for examining how hospitals are funded and what the incentives are for the hospitals’ investments.

Hospitals are encouraged to buy equipment that requires extensive billing and usage to justify. Is it possible that some procedures could be streamlined?

I would appreciate a view of the major hospital finances for Maine’s “nonprofit” hospitals, including chargemaster (before discounts) billing rates and executive compensation. I am equally interested in clearly understanding the real effect of Anthem and Maine Medical Center’s proposal for changing areas of coverage.

I would like to know more about the agreements on discounted billing charges between hospitals and major insurance providers.

Congratulations on the paper’s investigative work of the past. Please continue the good work.

Robert Libby

Chebeague Island 

All Mainers should take texting-driving pledge

When I first began driving, there were no cellphones. We were taught to keep our eyes on the road and pledged to never drink and drive.

While these lessons are important today, drivers now have even more to think about. As nearly nine in 10 Americans now have cellphones, we must remind each other to take our own pledge to not text and drive.

The statistics on distracted driving are alarming – texting while driving causes one in four accidents annually. It’s a national epidemic that we’re not immune to in Maine, as tragic accidents involving texting and driving remain in the news.

In Maine, texting while driving has been illegal for more than two years and carries with it a $250 fine and adds two points to the offender’s license. Unfortunately, we need to do more than just enforce the law – we need to educate drivers of all ages about the dangers of distracted driving.

Nationwide, a program called “It Can Wait” is aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving. It recently sponsored a national “Drive for Pledges” day and people across Maine signed a pledge to not text and drive. Take the pledge at www.itcanwait.com, and share it with your loved ones. By educating each other, we can prevent these tragedies.

Matt Dunlap

Maine secretary of state

Augusta

Supporters of the tea party deserve place of their own

Since it’s apparent that Republicans, also known as the tea party, are bent on destroying my country, here’s a suggestion: Why don’t they leave and start a country of their own somewhere, hopefully in a galaxy far, far away? There, they would have the following benefits they crave:

No one would pay any taxes.

Health care would be given only to those with up-front cash.

The elderly and the poor would be put out to pasture.

No one would pay any taxes.

One religion would fit all – or else.

Only those of of a certain hue would be allowed to vote.

Every child would receive a free Glock at birth.

Public schools would be eliminated.

No one would pay any taxes.

My brother didn’t go ashore on D-Day, and I didn’t endure my time in Korea, to see my country being held hostage by a bunch of mean-spirited, history-ignorant, ultra-right wing zealots.

So I do hope they will take my suggestion to heart, and take their infantile destructive tendencies with them.

(Continued on page 2)

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