Sunday, March 9, 2014
I understand that the Press Herald looks at everything Maine from a liberal perspective.
A reader is critical of a proposal to repeal a law that would require the state teachers union to provide data needed for competititive bidding on most Maine schools’ health insurance contracts.
However, I was surprised to find not one mention of L.D. 300, "An Act to Protect School Administrative Units and Taxpayers."
How could anyone not love that title? The only problem is that the act protects neither schools nor taxpayers.
It should be more appropriately called "An Act to Protect the Union's Monopoly Providing Health Insurance to Schools and to Cost Taxpayers." (I'm interested in this subject because I managed school employee health insurance in similar situations.)
For many years, the teachers union's benefits trust (the Maine Education Association Benefits Trust) provided health insurance to most schools in Maine with no competition.
The last Legislature passed a law to encourage competitive bidding for insurance. The MEA Benefits Trust responded by refusing to provide employee claims data to the schools. (These data are needed to obtain competitive bids.)
Instead, the benefits trust sued to overturn the law, claiming that claims data are their trade secret! They lost in two jurisdictions.
Now along comes L.D. 300, which would not require the benefits trust to provide employee claims information to the employees' schools. One supporter of L.D. 300 says that bidding would not provide long-term savings. How does he know?
The problems that supporters put forth are straw men. To see the real impact of competitive bidding, just look at Wisconsin. Schools have saved millions of dollars through competitive bidding. The union trust even lowered previously quoted rates.
School budgets are being squeezed hard all over the state. In this situation, what kind of legislator would vote to preserve the union's monopoly at the expense of the schools and the taxpayers?
The only way to determine the extent of the savings is to obtain bids. Bids can't be obtained without claims experience.
Question: What is the Maine Education Association Benefits Trust's profit or reserve?
Photo not only indicator of housing aid seeker's needs
A letter from one of your readers demonstrates remarkable nerve ("Let young, healthy people earn their rent," April 23).
Are we to assume, as she has, that by looking at a few people in a single photograph, we can know whether they are in fact "able-bodied" and therefore not in need of housing assistance?
Are we to assume that those who apply for housing assistance are not already cleaning offices at night or flipping burgers to earn a meager living?
The fact remains that far too many jobs pay far too little to be a viable means of support for far too many people.
The job market has changed a great deal in just a few years, and people are struggling. Even the lowest-paying jobs aren't always available.
While we all appreciate the reader's years of service before retiring, she might better use her time by gathering a few more facts before deciding for the working poor how best to use their time.
New dental care providers can work safely, effectively
Mainers suffer from a lack of access to oral health care.
Two-thirds of Mainers live in rural areas; only 13.5 percent of dentists practice in rural areas.
Within five years, 23.7 percent of dentists in Maine plan to retire and 16.1 percent expect to reduce their hours.
The Maine Office of Rural Health and Primary Care reports there is a shortage of dentists in nearly every Maine county.
A study partly funded by the Maine Dental Association found that 55 percent of children in Maine had no access to dental care.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates we will be facing a tidal wave of medical and dental care needs. Dental hygiene therapists could be utilized safely and effectively to meet these needs.
Allowing dental hygiene therapists to serve Maine citizens is a healthy decision.
A 2012 report reviewed more than 1,100 studies of dental hygiene therapists and found no evidence that patients' safety or quality of care was compromised.
The dental hygiene therapist will serve as a highly trained, skilled and educated professional who will be an adjunct to care.
Dental hygiene therapists are now being utilized safely and effectively in other states.
Along with a four-year registered dental hygienist degree, the dental hygiene therapist must complete a rigorous 18-month specialized curriculum.
Dental hygiene therapists will also be required to have an additional 500 hours of clinical training.
The dental hygiene therapist will be licensed to practice under the general supervision of a dentist.
Dental hygiene therapists will become expert providers of 24 basic procedures that Mainers desperately need.
Join me in supporting the dental hygiene therapist profession. This is a quality-of-life issue.
Vilification of gun owners no help to gun-control bills
For more than four months, gun-rights supporters have been vilified by every media outlet possible.
Gun owners have been mapped out and profiled in newspapers no differently than a sex offender would be.
The very need for a person to possess a firearm has been questioned as uncivilized.
And those who exploited the children's families in Newtown to serve their long-held agenda to strip guns from the American public, one baby step at a time, have thoroughly failed.
All the newspaper ink and TV footage in the world will not take away our basic human right to defend ourselves.
The federal gun-control legislation put forth, which contained not one iota of extra security for schools, has fallen apart.
And all Sen. Angus King's horses, and all Sen. King's men, cannot put it back together again.