November 6, 2013

Letters to the editor: Boys need to move more, too

Writing a critical letter regarding Noel Gallagher’s Portland Press Herald story “Elementary school kids learn a good run is fun” (Oct. 24) seems almost Grinch-like. After all, what reader can find fault with a program which encourages young children to exercise?

click image to enlarge

Exercise is vital for the health of both girls and boys, a reader notes.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

My irritation with the article is certainly not about exercise; it is the focus on girls to the exclusion of boys. Nowhere is there mention of a boy, a him, or a he. It is as if our public schools were populated by only one sex. Problems of obesity and conditioning are shared by all schoolchildren, and although girls may suffer from low self-esteem in their transition from grade school to high school, as a group girls seem to be doing quite well.

They are graduating from high school, college, and graduate programs at far higher rates than boys. And while formal physical education classes for schools have suffered in a series of budget cuts, why does Girls on the Run, which runs a series of after-school programs in local schools, focus their programs on one sex?

Regular exercise plays a critical role in the health of boys and girls. One can make the case that with the epidemic of attention deficit disorder, which affects primarily boys, that running programs may play an even greater role in the health and academic success of boys. Programs such as this should be sex-neutral so that all of our students enjoy the benefits of exercise.

Charles Radis, D.O.

Peaks Island

Limiting surgical options adds to cost of MaineCare

Dr. Douglas Howell, in his Maine Voices column “Cynical mandate for hospital care” (Oct.23), makes a good case for reversing Gov. LePage’s rule change of September 2012 that barred MaineCare reimbursement for the use of Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs).

As he notes, this forces physicians performing cataract surgery, colonoscopies and other procedures to use hospital facilities at twice the cost and a marked decrease in efficiency.

The problem, however, is even more cynical than Dr. Howell speculates. When this problem was brought to my attention, I introduced legislation to restore MaineCare eligibility for ASCs.

The Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported enactment, and both the House and Senate approved the measure. All recognized that this would save millions of dollars a year.

Why wasn’t it enacted? Because the administration refused to submit data to the Legislature that showed the real impact of the rule repeal. Despite repeated requests, silence.

What I learned from this experience is that there are ways to kill a bill that I hadn’t contemplated. One is to inflate its cost so that it cannot be enacted without unbalancing the budget.

Why do this in this case? Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just pride: They made the rule change without considering its real cost implications, and were afraid to acknowledge their mistake by submitting accurate fiscal information.

The Appropriations Committee knew the administration was playing games, so rather than kill the bill, they held it over until the upcoming session in January.

By then, the real fiscal data should find its way to members. If not, Maine taxpayers will continue to get hammered.

Rep. Janice Cooper

D-Yarmouth

The lives of the uninsured in jeopardy under LePage

Amy, our widowed daughter, has suffered from serious chronic ailments for a number of years to the extent she can no longer hold a job to support herself. She is totally dependent on government financial assistance.

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