December 4, 2013

Letters to the editor: Maine should try pilot health care programs

I write in support of the Portland Press Herald’s recent editorial “Our View: MaineCare study won’t tell much we don’t know” (Nov. 21).

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Kenya Williams helps unemployed construction worker Jerome Davis Jr., 36, sign up for Medicaid under expanded eligibility rules in Chicago on Nov. 8. Maine would be better off accepting federal funds to expand MaineCare than spending $1 million to review DHHS programs, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

Here’s what we know: This year Maine received a $33 million, three-year grant that will test whether new payment and service models will produce superior results and lower costs. Maine also received a Balancing Incentives Grant to support efforts to increase access to non-institutional long-term services and supports.

Both are funded through the Affordable Care Act and provide a road map for real reform, if implemented well.

We also know that over time, expanding affordable health coverage through Medicaid would keep costs down across the entire health care system.

We know that tens of thousands of Mainers would finally have health insurance. Through statewide polling, we also know that 66 percent of Mainers support expanding affordable health coverage to their family, friends and neighbors.

Every year we fight to protect the services that help our most at-risk residents stay in their own homes and communities where we know they want to be. Year after year, the state argues that programs like Drugs for the Elderly and Medicare Savings must be cut or even eliminated due to budget constraints, even though these programs cost the state much less than institutional care.

Now, the state is willing to waste almost $1 million in taxpayer dollars to fund The Alexander Group’s report on Maine’s social service system. Instead, the state should move forward with these innovative pilots they have been funded to implement.

Our leaders should also acknowledge that accepting millions of federal dollars so that Mainers can have health insurance and hospital debt and charity care can be reduced is what Maine needs and what Mainers want.

Rich Livingston

volunteer state president, AARP Maine


Biddeford’s bedbug fines are unfair to landlords

OK, now it’s time to pick on another Maine community where the city government has no clue as to what goes on. I’m talking about Biddeford, where the City Council wants an ordinance to fine landlords for bedbug infestation (“Bedbugs rising: Biddeford to get tough on landlords, tenants,” Nov. 7).

What a joke. Maybe instead it should fine the tenants for the problem. Don’t they realize that bedbugs live in all furniture that has cloth on it?

So, let’s say that I own a duplex or apartment building that’s totally cleaned out, unfurnished and bug-free and rent to some new tenants. These tenants move in with their furniture and months later start complaining about bedbugs.

Now I ask you – whose fault is it? The landlord who rented out a bug-free apartment, or the tenant who brought the bedbugs with them? People in that city move so often that they surely didn’t throw out their furniture every time they moved and bought new.

So now the landlord has to fumigate the place at his expense, and after that, if the problem still exists, the tenant goes to the city and complains, and the landlord who did his job twice gets fined if he refuses to clean it again. And yet you see the tenants on TV calling them slumlords.

Where’s the protection for the landlord if the tenants are at fault? There is none. Maybe the landlords should just screen every potential tenant, and demand that they have their furniture cleaned and fumigated or, better yet, buy new, so as not to infest the apartment with the bugs.

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