Saturday, April 19, 2014
As a regular blood donor for more than 30 years, and having known Brian Hodges for several years, I read with interest your July 13 story regarding policies that restrict blood donations from gays ("Gay man's Portland blood donation fails again"). I could not help but be reminded of past policies restricting transfusions among races.
Brian Hodges of West Gardiner waits in line to give blood July 12 at the American Red Cross donor center in Portland. Hodges was turned down under a federal policy that bars gay men from contributing to the blood supply.
2013 File Photo/John Patriquin
I hope the powers that be will soon revise these outdated policies to be consistent with the current level of their own actual blood screening tests, regardless of a donor's self-declaration of activities as diverse as sexual partners, overseas travel, imprisonment, tattoos or intravenous drug use.
At a time when blood demand is so great, it does not make sense to continue to limit supply when efficient and accurate screening is already in use.
The next time I make my regular donation, I will do so hoping it might make a difference and be an actual gift of life to someone in need. And for the record, if I ever need a pint, I would be thankful to receive one from Mr. Hodges.
On 'birthday' of Medicare, let's appreciate all it's done
This month, Medicare turns 48. Since Medicare was signed into law July 30, 1965, by President Johnson, the program has helped millions of people 65 and older as well as many younger Americans with disabilities get the health care coverage they need.
Prior to the creation of Medicare, only half of the older adults in the United States had health insurance because coverage was often unavailable or unaffordable.
While you may understand the benefits of Medicare, did you know that it took almost two decades for Medicare to be signed into law?
President Truman tried on three occasions to implement a national health insurance program without success.
In 1961, a task force convened by President Kennedy recommended the creation of a national health insurance program specifically for those over 65. President Kennedy gave a televised speech about the need for Medicare in May 1962.
President Johnson continued the call in 1964, urging Congress to create Medicare. Finally, in 1965, Congress passed legislation creating the Medicare program.
When Medicare coverage began, more than 19 million Americans 65 and older enrolled in the program. Today, nearly 50 million Americans depend on Medicare for their health insurance coverage. With increasing life expectancies and more people turning 65 every day, the number of people in Medicare is expected to double between the years 2000 and 2030.
Because this program is vital to so many, it's important we take the time to appreciate Medicare's journey. Equally important, we need to make sure that we do all we can to ensure the program remains strong for current and future generations. You can share your opinions at earnedasay.org.
AARP Maine Executive Council
Farm bill leaves out needy, favors corporate interests
The farm bill sets U.S. agricultural, food and resource conservation policy for the next five years.
Earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives, on a party-line vote, broke with tradition by stripping from the farm bill the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
What's left in the bill is billions of dollars of subsidies mostly for farming conglomerates. The U.S. Senate passed a much more balanced bill last month.
Over the past 18 years, our government has doled out an average of $7 billion per year of taxpayer funds to support the livestock and dairy industries. Instead, their products should be taxed to reimburse state and federal governments for the uncounted billions in increased medical costs and lost productivity associated with their consumption.
(Continued on page 2)