February 10, 2013

Letters to the editor: Cuts will hurt seniors, taxpayers

Shifting budget woes to the most vulnerable populations will result in a devastating blow to Maine's low-income seniors and Maine taxpayers.

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Eliminating or reducing drug coverage for low-income Maine seniors will cause their health to deteriorate and force them to move to nursing homes – ultimately resulting in higher costs to Maine taxpayers, a reader says.

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When people are hungry and cold, paying for medicine to treat chronic diseases will always come last. Survival struggles such as these will force the most vulnerable of populations to eat and stay warm rather than spend money on medicine.

The results of the elderly going without medicine may not be seen for months or years. Maine's elderly health will decline, and Maine's hospitals, clinics, nursing and boarding homes will become full of seniors with treatable diseases and preventable complications.

Providing a clinic in the most rural area of Maine to help elderly residents age in place has been my personal goal. Without this benefit, I fear the population I have diligently worked with to provide primary health care will be forced to move away from their homes and family and into residential and nursing facilities.

The short-sighted decision to remove the drug benefits from low-income seniors will be devastating not only to the health of the patients at my clinic in Allagash but to all low-income seniors in Maine. The high financial costs of untreated disease will ultimately shift to all of Maine's taxpayers.

Medicine to treat chronic disease for low-income seniors should always come first. These patients are the same people who worked their lifetimes in Maine, and I believe they deserve the best health care and the necessary medicines.

Paula Carson-Charette, FNP-C

Full Circle Health Care, Allagash

Fort Kent resident

With greater gender parity, better policymaking possible

What's wrong with this picture?

Simpson-Bowles Committee: Fifteen men, three women.

Biden Deficit Commission: Six men, no women.

"Supercommittee" on Deficit Reduction: Eleven men, one woman.

Bipartisan immigration reform "Gang of Eight": Eight men, no women.

Bipartisan gun policy reform group: Four men, no women.

At least in our own minds (tongue in cheek), women are recognized as multi-taskers and problem-solvers. It's hard not to believe that if more congressional women had been involved in discussion of the tough issues facing our country, we would be much better off!

Now is the time for all of the "leaders" of the Senate and House to step down and let some real leaders take a shot at moving the country forward.

Anne B. Pringle

Portland

Government involvement no boon to railroad service

Interesting article by Colin Woodward on Feb. 4, "Expansion of passenger trains in Maine takes slow track."

As noted in the article, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages Amtrak's Downeaster employees and trains, is a quasi-state agency. Amtrak, which owns those trains and hires those employees, is a quasi-federal agency.

Is that any way to run a railroad? Well, it worked for the Soviet Union, sort of, didn't it?

John MacKillop

Brunswick

Don't allow the carping few to determine pipeline's fate

Regarding the recent protest march held in Portland in opposition to any use of the pipeline for the transportation of tar sands oil ("Huge crowd turns out to denounce possible transport of tar sands in region," Jan. 27), I am confident that this small minority -- bolstered by out-of-state "activists" -- does not represent the opinion of the people of Maine.

I believe that Mainers have too much common sense to ban something for the abstract threat that a possible spill poses. No one wants to see oil spills, but the fact remains that we need energy. To block something because of a potential future risk is not rational policy or government.

(Continued on page 2)

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