Anthem coverage costs outrageous

I am a native and current resident of Maine. I have lived in worked in many other parts of the world, including Europe and Canada. I currently spend half of my year in Canada.

When I explain to Canadians that people in America can face financial ruin if they cannot afford to pay for health insurance and they or one of their children face injury, they are appalled. To Canadians, health care is as much an essential right as the right to education, trash pickup or paved roads.

The fact that our system is such that insurance companies like Anthem can suck such outrageous profits out of the pockets of hard-working families is a glaring example of how greed runs our society. Maine should not allow this to continue.

Free markets offer a useful tool in this day and age. Capitalism has provided us with many comforts and improvements to daily life so that we may experience and enjoy more out of the world than we ever have.

But it is a tool. To make capitalism the very fulcrum upon which our country rests is the beginning of the end of a fully functioning society, which should be focused on the greatest good for all.

Compassion, respect and generosity — to list a few qualities — should be the fulcrum of this country and state, not competition, wealth, gain and profit. Providing basic needs such as health care, in my opinion, most clearly reflects this philosophy.

Maine should be at the forefront of this movement back to humans living in harmony, not part of the stale process in which the rich get richer and the poor get sicker. It starts with the case against Anthem, which wants a guaranteed profit, which breaks the rules of the free-market system they are exploiting.

Let the world know that Maine does not support greed, especially when it is taking away its citizens’ basic right to health care treatment. Medicine was developed to help, not to make money. Mainers know this.

Quinton Porter



A new study shows that 11 percent of Maine adults lack health insurance. I fear that my wife and I may soon be among that number, and that the 11 percent figure is soon to increase.

We are among the 11,000 individual subscribers to Anthem BC/BS. As self-employed Maine residents, we have no viable alternative to the Anthem plan. We have now received word that Anthem intends to increase our premiums by 23.6 percent — just the latest of a long series of double-digit increases.

We have already increased our deductible to $15,000 apiece to mitigate the effect of past years’ premium increases; we have no more room to move.

Although we take good care of ourselves, and have never cost Anthem a penny during our 15 years of coverage, we are faced with punishing premiums and the need to keep raising the self-payment threshhold before the first dollar of health benefits might kick in.

WellPoint, Anthem’s parent company, has profited mightily while strangling Maine health care consumers.

It is well past time for our insurance commissioner to put an end to Anthem’s virtual monopoly in Maine, and for Congress to enact health care reform to provide alternatives to the greed of private health care insurers.

Morris Kreitz

Cape Elizabeth


As an 18-year-old Maine resident, I was shocked by Glenn Adams’s Feb. 11 article in the Portland Press Herald on Maine’s latest health care coverage survey. And, unfortunately, it’s about to get a lot worse.

Despite the reported $3.3 billion dolprofit of its parent company, Anthem, which controls more than three-quarters of Maine health insurance plans, is seeking to raise rates on Maine people once again.

Later next month, Anthem will sue our state for higher premiums, arguing that Maine should guarantee a profit on their basic and catastrophic plans. These are insurance plans that already present high premiums to consumers.

Anthem wants to make it even harder for down-on-their-luck Mainers to access the quality medical care that they need, while at the same time ensuring that they make the most profit off of our pain.

In Maine, we don’t ask for very much. We simply ask that, as an insurance company in this state, you provide basic insurance to the people that need it the most, and have no other way to access it.

”The Way Life Should Be” isn’t just a tourism slogan; it speaks to the ideals Maine values the most. At the core of those ideals, especially in trying economic times like these, is access to affordable, quality health insurance.

If Anthem can’t even guarantee that for some of the hardest-hit Mainers among us, then they shouldn’t be doing business in this state in the first place.

WIlliam Nelligan



Rail critic right to say cost of service too high

Bravo to Jonathan Harris, whose treatise on rail passenger service to Brunswick (”Rail service ‘improvements’ turn out to be waste of money,” Feb. 10) hits the nail on the head. Comparing it to Alaska’s ”Bridge to Nowhere” is totally appropriate.

While he emphasizes the superiority of bus service to Boston at only a dollar more than half the rail fare, he doesn’t quite make it clear that the bus lines are self-supporting, while every year the rail revenue has to be matched with a like amount of tax dollars to keep the operation solvent.

And that’s in addition to the well over $200 million already spent, the $35 million about to be spent, and another $52 million proposed, all just for infrastructure improvements.

Rail passenger service is totally appropriate for high density needs like the Boston-Washington corridor. There is simply no such need in Maine. To push for it here is like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

We have is a profitable free-enterprise transportation system providing excellent service and willing to serve in any viable market, but we are now about to send still more millions of precious tax dollars down a rat hole to set up a government alternative operation.

That alternative costs about four times as much to operate, cannot match the quality of service we now have, will have negligible if any environmental advantage, and will require still more millions of tax dollars in subsidies every year to remain solvent.

Can anyone come up with anything more stupid?

John Parker



Readers find flaws in Obama’s leadership

Some people think that President Obama is doing well. I have a different view.

In a letter to the editor in September 2008, I said Obama is not qualified to be president and his election would be a disaster for the country. I believe that my assessment has been confirmed by his year in office.

A recent piece by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds in The Wall Street Journal summed the situation up very well.

He wrote, ”There were promises of transparency and a new kind of collaborative politics where establishment figures listened to ordinary Americans. We were going to see net spending cuts, tax cuts for nearly all Americans, an end to earmarks, legislation posted online for the public to review before it was signed into law, and a line-by-line review of the federal budget to remove wasteful programs.”

Just the opposite of these promises is what has occurred.

I thought early in 2008 that it was a sad situation for the nation because not one of the candidates who were putting themselves forward for the presidency was fully qualified. I felt Sen. John McCain was considerably better than the others, but his qualifications were somewhat marginal.

I thought then, and I still think, that the only person of national prominence who was, and is, fully qualified to be president is Condoleezza Rice. She has intelligence, knowledge, experience, accomplishment, strength of judgment and very great competence.

In addition to that, it would be great fun to see liberal Democrats and representatives of NOW twist themselves into knots trying to oppose a very accomplished black woman simply because she is a Republican!

David W. Knudsen



All is lost for President Obama: His master plan of socialized health care, massive taxation of everything and anything, including the CO2 we exhale; his expectations of Chicago Olympics glory and world leaders succumbing to his overwhelming brilliance and charm.

A very good indicator was the massive shift in Massachusetts politics, where Scott Brown won with 52 percent of the vote, in a state where Republicans comprise only 12 percent of the electorate. Seems like less and less ”hope and change.”

Dennis Gervais



The purpose of insurance should be to protect the insured from catastrophe. Consider your car insurance. You pay for gas and oil change, and repairs. The insurance pays for the catastrophe; i.e. accident repairs after you pay the deductable.

You do not expect the insurance to pay all your costs — just the major ones. So why with health insurance do we expect insurance to cover all medical costs?

The vast majority of Americans (more than 80 percent) now have some form of medical insurance. The federal government runs two medical insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Both are bankrupt.

Current law requires hospitals to treat anyone arriving at a hospital emergency room, regardless of who they are or whether they can pay. The hospitals charge exorbitant rates so that those who do pay subsidize those who do not pay.

The president is pushing Congress to provide medical insurance for essentially all residents of the United States, whether here legally or not. Washington proposes to provide medical coverage to 47 million people who do not have medical insurance.

Among the reasons for not having insurance is the fact that many of these, including 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants, cannot afford the premiums.

So under the proposed plan, the medical needs of 47 million people will be paid regardless of whether they pay premiums. You must conclude that there is no possible way for this approach to be fiscally solvent without a major increase in premiums.

So why does Washington say that the plan will lower costs? You and I know the answer is, ”They lie.” Those paying premiums will pay higher premiums to subsidize those who will be receiving the benefits of health coverage but won’t be paying the premiums.

Allen J. Bingham



Les Otten has what it takes to make the best governor


If we want more jobs in Maine, we need a proven job creator. That means electing Les Otten as governor.

I’ve heard Les Otten talk about his goals for Maine and his strategy for accomplishing them. As a successful businessman several times over, he has a proven track record in actually creating jobs.

When he speaks of creating jobs, he is not talking about government jobs. He speaks of private sector jobs — jobs that generate more jobs.

Our next governor should be someone with a proven track record in job creation. We don’t need bureaucrats who have worked in government and have not actually created jobs.

Les Otten continues to demonstrate his ability to create jobs in Maine — whether it was Sunday River with over 1,200 jobs (three of my immediate family members had jobs as a result of Sunday River), Maine Energy Systems or one of the other small businesses he owns in Maine.

He has a plan to create the environment that will bring jobs to Maine: tax, insurance and regulatory reform, control of our energy future and providing our children with an adequate education for the jobs of the future.

Les Otten is the right choice for the next governor for Maine.

Mary Jean Labbe

Kittery Point


Attempt to let non-citizens vote violates basic standards


Your Feb. 12 article, ”Non-citizen Portland residents seek right to vote,” quotes Ron Hayward, an associate professor of Political Science at Manhattan Community College in New York, a so-called expert on this issue, claiming that non-citizens vote in local elections in Cambridge, Mass.

Professor Hayward should check his facts before making inaccurate statements. While the subject has been mentioned and kicked about, it has been determined that voting by non-citizens is illegal.

Gary Koocher




Time Sen. Snowe backed words on ads with action


Sen. Olympia Snowe, in response to the recent Supreme Court decision lifting the ban on certain political advertisements by corporations and labor unions, is right in expressing her opinion that the ”decision was a serious disservice to our country.”

In her press release, she stated: ”The effects of the decision will be to undermine existing law, flood the airwaves with corporate and union advertisements, and undercut landmark reforms that I and many others fought to secure to put elections back in the hands of the American people.”

Seventeen others from Belfast to Bristol also signed this letter. We meet monthly at a salon for political discussions. We now ask Sen. Snowe to back up these words with action. Will she sponsor and advocate for a bill that reverses this ruling?

These days it appears that Washington politicians are always quick to give words of outrage or support, but have stopped getting anything done.

Reforms of the health care system and the financial regulatory system and job incentives get stopped on the Senate floor by the wall of ”no” votes coming from the Republicans, including our two U.S. senators.

Sen. Snowe issued this press release. Will she do anything more?

Maura Melley

Tenants Harbor


Routine military budget hikes harm all Americans’ rights


Congress will be voting on the Pentagon budget soon. Continued escalation of the military budget on a yearly basis is a threat to the needs of the citizens of the United States.

We should not support to these inroads on domestic needs.

President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of the possibility of a military-industrial encroachment on the future of the United States.

We are at that stage now and need to assert our rights. A vote to prevent further encroachments on our domestic needs is urgent.

John Radebaugh, M.D.



Westbrook Council didn’t take residents’ interests to heart


I am so disappointed about the decision made by the Westbrook City Council about the Pike Industries rezoning. As a Birdland resident, and one who was active in the case against a quarry 41 years ago, I have sat through many, many meetings about this issue.

I thought a decision would finally be made. It feels like the new mayor and council didn’t really listen to us. I could tell they already knew that they were going to table the rezoning. If that was the case, why put us through 3½ hours of testimony in a hot room?

Were my and other people’s comments all for nothing? Did they care about our stories about what it was like for us to live near a quarry and what we have put up with for the past few years as far as blasting, trucks and noise?

We elected our city councilors to look out for us and to make the right decisions on our behalf. It really felt to me and many of my neighbors as if our city councilors were putting the businesses first and the neighbors second.

There was lots of talk about fairness with this rezoning issue, and from what I feel, not a lot of fairness when it comes to those of us who live across the street.

Is it really fair to disturb an established neighborhood, especially since we all know what really happened back in 1968?

Josephine Peterson



Those who backed Question 1 reflect culture’s ugly values


Most public policy decisions are both technically complicated and value-laden. Of course reasonable and good people will have differing views on things like health care and tax codes. But why are our civic debates never reasonable or good?

Maine’s Question 1 campaign last year offers an explanation. This was a rare case of a simple public question. Traditional marriage was not at risk. School curriculum design was not in this question.

The people of Maine chose to disrespect the most important love relationship of a minority group. The tool they used was rejection of a foundational premise of our civic culture: equal protection under the law.

Yes, the Catholic Church was a powerful force promoting bad behavior. But still, ”yes” voters must take ownership. They shouldn’t compound a bad act with cowardice and blame their religion. They shouldn’t attempt to salve their conscience with the thought, ”But I love the sinner.”

Even if their love wasn’t the sick, abusive love offered, same-sex couples weren’t looking for love. They had found love already with their partner. What they wanted from their fellow citizens was basic respect.

I woke Nov. 4 with the knowledge that 53 percent of Maine voters have a value system fractured at its foundation. Where do I go with that?

I am no longer surprised civic discourse is ugly. What else could it be in a culture with ugly values?

Kenneth O’Brien




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