March 22, 2013

Letters to the editor: Expanded MaineCare could help many

I am writing to call on Gov. LePage to negotiate with the federal government and accept Medicaid funds under the health reform law. These funds would cover an estimated 69,500 low-income Mainers, including refugees and people granted asylum who have made their home here in Maine.

click image to enlarge

Immigrants attend English classes at West School in Portland in 2012. Accepting federal Medicaid funds would not only allow access to health care but also create jobs, addressing a need in the immigrant community, an advocate says.

2012 File Photo/John Patriquin

With insurance, individuals and families from our communities will be less likely to delay getting the care they need. This improves their well-being and brings down long-term health care costs for everyone.

Access to health care is very important for many refugees and people granted asylum who have fled their country of origin because of unsafe living conditions. Many of these individuals are managing serious health conditions and coping with the aftereffects of violence and war.

Accepting federal funds benefits our economy. It creates jobs and makes workers healthier and more productive. Second to health care, employment is the most important need in the immigrant community.

Do you know that a report from Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Maine Center for Economic Policy recently found that Maine would receive $250 million in federal funds each year? This would stimulate $350 million in economic activity and 3,100 new jobs by 2016.

Federal funding that would improve our communities' health and our economy is just too good a deal for Maine to pass up.

Mohamud Barre

executive director, Somali Culture and Development Association

Portland

Our state has an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Mainers by accepting federal funds to cover 69,500 more people through Medicaid.

That is 69,500 more people in Maine with health insurance, giving them access to needed care, including routine screenings for cancer, which let us find disease early, when it is most treatable and when treatment is less expensive.

Each year the Komen Maine Affiliate grants funds to support breast cancer services into Maine communities.

We fund mammograms, diagnostic testing and even transportation to treatment, and focus on serving people who lack adequate health coverage.

We are proud of the impact that we and our community partners have.

But even our best efforts to serve those in need are not enough. Until everyone in our state has access to health coverage, there will be too many people who fall through the cracks.

There is no reason why anyone should have to forgo cancer screening because they cannot afford it.

I hope everyone who supports our mission of ending breast cancer will encourage their legislators to accept these federal funds.

The money is there to benefit Mainers. We'd be foolish to miss such an opportunity.

Regina Rooney

community outreach manager, Maine Affiliate of Susan G. Komen

Bangor

Senators must stand up for tougher anti-violence laws

Thank you for your editorial on March 6 ("Our View: Gun trafficking bill a good place to start") complimenting Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins for supporting legislation that would make it harder to traffic guns illegally, and, at the same time, asking them to support tougher legislation designed to reduce the incidences of horrific mass shootings.

Thus far, both senators have been reluctant to commit to unqualified support for tougher measures to curb gun violence. I welcome all pressure on them, including yours, to stand up and be counted in favor of tougher laws against gun violence.

Madge Baker

Shapleigh

Counties can recoup aid cut by keeping local sales taxes

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