May 22, 2013

Letters to the editor: North Woods at mercy of profiteers

(Continued from page 1)

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Iconic Mount Kineo in the middle of Moosehead Lake. A reader fears development’s effect on the Great North Woods and Moosehead.

2007 File Photo

Where are the bills to curb spending or live within our means? Please turn off "American Idol" and pay attention to what's happening in Augusta. Everything they do has lasting effects on each of us.

Ingrid LeVasseur


Collins' bill to ease airline delays aided Maine tourism

I am writing this letter to bring to light the role that Sen. Susan Collins had in making the 2013 Maine tourism season just that much better.

I happened to be at the American Hotel & Lodging Association Legislative Action Summit in Washington, D.C., as a representative of the Maine Innkeepers Association, where Sen. Collins was the featured speaker.

She announced that she would be introducing legislation that day to alleviate the ongoing issue of disrupted air travel due to the FAA furlough of air traffic controllers. Two days later, her proposal passed the Senate.

We are very lucky to have such a responsive senator and one who can work across party lines for the good of the country and our state.

All three flights I was on to and from D.C. were delayed or disrupted by at least an hour due to the situation -- hardly the stuff a relaxing vacation to Maine is made of.

Now, hopefully, vacationers to Maine can enjoy their trip to Maine, as well as their stay with us.

Greg Dugal

Lincolnville Center

Hospital debt repayments must be linked to MaineCare

The debate about whether to link repaying hospital debt to accepting federal funds to cover the uninsured is hard to understand. Unless the two are tied together, we've only solved half the debt problem.

When those below poverty level get sick or injured, they will still need care. Maine's hospitals have a long tradition of providing care to all, whether or not they can pay their bills.

But when hospitals care for the uninsured, they incur debt. That's why the proposal to link hospital debt repayment to the expansion of MaineCare makes sense.

There's no dispute that the final installment on the debt created by an outmoded MaineCare payment system must be paid.

But unless Maine accepts the federal funds to cover low-income people, their care will continue to go unpaid. That creates a new debt to Maine's hospitals.

Some say we don't need to accept federal funds because people who are below poverty can buy coverage once the new health insurance marketplaces -- or exchanges -- are in place.

People below poverty level have annual incomes under $11,500, yet are ineligible for subsidies to buy health insurance on the exchange. Only people with incomes between $11,500 and $45,960 per person qualify for health insurance discounts.

That's because the Affordable Care Act, as passed, assumed everybody below poverty would qualify for Medicaid (called MaineCare here).

But the Supreme Court ruled that it's up to states to decide whether or not to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs. As a result, unless a state does so, the poorest of the poor remain uninsured and their care creates debt to Maine hospitals.

By linking federal payments for the uninsured with the hospital debt repayment, the proposal ends the current debt and prevents a future one.

Trish Riley



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