Saturday, May 25, 2013
I have read with concern several recent news accounts that describe extraordinarily offensive comments made by Gov. Paul LePage in discussing the Internal Revenue Service's role in administering provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Douglas H. Shulman, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, describes as “extraordinarily offensive” remarks by Gov. LePage that compared the IRS to the Gestapo.
2010 File Photo/The Associated Press
The employees of the IRS are among the most dedicated and hardworking in the federal government. Gov. LePage's comments are disturbing on so many levels, but I am particularly distressed that he would attack public servants in Maine and across the country who come to work every day committed to giving their best for the American taxpayer.
We at the IRS take very seriously the duty we have to properly implement federal laws as directed by Congress, and we welcome constructive dialogue in regard to the implementation of these laws. But I must strongly object to comments such as those made by Gov. LePage, which serve no constructive purpose, and do a disservice to the employees of my agency.
Douglas H. Shulman
Health reform law greeted with optimism and worry
I want to echo and amplify the thoughts of state Reps. Linda Sanborn and Sharon Treat in their June 24 Maine Voices column ("Care reform's future not in court's hands") about health care reform.
I also want to add a word about a population not mentioned in the column, one that doesn't often get a mention in the debate about health care reform: people with mental illness.
Mental illness is far more common than many people like to believe. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 20 percent of American adults experience a mental illness in a given year.
People with serious mental illness suffer as much as, or more than, anyone under the current health care system. Studies repeatedly show that individuals with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier, on average, than people in the general population.
Low-quality, inconsistent and uncoordinated health care is one of the drivers of this statistic.
I represent an organization called Amistad, located in Portland, that is a consumer-run membership organization for people with mental illness and other life challenges.
Too often, we witness the effects of poor health care: members dying very young of the same diseases -- diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- that normally kill people 20 or 30 years later.
We have been heartened by the potential for health care reform. Patient-centered medical homes, parity for substance-abuse and mental-health treatment, coverage for pre-existing conditions, expanded eligibility and subsidies for purchasers of private insurance -- all of these can be enormously positive developments for people with mental illness.
The consumer movement looks forward to working with government officials, provider organizations, advocates and other stakeholders to help implement health care reform in Maine.
Bill Dunn of Yarmouth asks an easy question about Obamacare ("Readers continue to debate Affordable Care Act ruling," July 10), which is to explain the difference between putting the government between patient and doctor and putting an insurance company between patient and doctor.
It is a very sad question. Why? Because I assume Mr. Dunn is a tax-paying citizen who has a very limited education of what the Founding Fathers envisioned for this country.
In a word, the difference is freedom!
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