Thank you for the recent article highlighting resources available to help seniors make good decisions about their health insurance.

Unfortunately, unless Congress acts quickly, seniors may also need help finding doctors.

Due to a flawed Medicare payment formula that Congress created a decade ago, seniors may soon find it hard to get the health care services they deserve because Medicare is about to cut their doctors’ pay.

The Senate recently voted to delay the Medicare pay cut for one more month, and the House followed suit.

But this is a temporary fix, and seniors deserve to know they will be able to see their doctors next month and beyond.

AARP feels it is Congress’ duty to stave off cuts for at least one year, if not indefinitely.

taking quick action, Congress can prevent further cuts. Passage of legislation to block these cuts is particularly important to Mainers.

Compared to other states, we have an above-average proportion of Medicare patients, with one in five residents relying on it.

According to the American Medical Association, this pay cut could result in the loss of $90 million in care for Maine’s elderly and disabled next year.

We also face losing more doctors if action isn’t taken. In Maine, there are only 14 physicians for every 1,000 Medicare patients, and nearly half of these physicians are over age 50.

Recent surveys have shown this is the age when many physicians consider reducing their number of patients. A 25 percent pay cut is the wrong kind of incentive to keep our physicians working.

AARP understands how important it is to keep your doctor. This is why we are dedicated to stopping Congress from driving doctors out of Medicare, and we will continue to fight for what you have earned.

John Hennessy

AARP Advocacy Director


Don’t let desire for oil drag us into war with Iran

While I suspect most of the WikiLeak diplomatic cable disclosures will prove to be trivial, those made by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia may lend credence to the belief that the United States is indeed a puppet of the Arab world by way of its dependence on Arab oil.

The leaks reveal that the king urged the United States to attack Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons program, and “to cut off the head of the snake” supporting terrorism worldwide.

One must ask, under what other circumstances would the king make, and this nation possibly act on, such an outrageous request?

And, given the Bush family’s close and long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite, and Dick Cheney’s persistent kowtowing to them while in office, one might also wonder whether or not we went to war in Iraq at the king’s request.

If there is a grain of truth to this theory, I hope the WikiLeaks will help us think twice about ever attacking Iran.

For if the Saudis, the Israelis, and others in the Arab world want to go to war with Iran, let them do it at their own expense and with the blood of their own people.

The United States has enough trouble to deal with at the moment without having to fight wars for cowards who think they can buy us off.

John Hebert


Small-business owners: Learn to rely on own skills 

Recently I realized that my company needed assistance with marketing a new product.

Five marketing companies were contacted, four in the Portland area and one in Augusta.

Out of these five businesses, only two contacted me back.

Isn’t the economy supposed to be in the bottom of the outhouse right now? If so, why do companies not chase every lead or at least make sure they do not get lost or misplaced?

As a small-business owner, I’m tired of hearing other businesses complaining about what is or is not going on in Augusta or in Washington.

We all know that small businesses drive our economy, and no special program the state or federal government creates will pull us out of this mess.

It is business owners with creativity and the nerve to stick their necks out who will change the economy.

The incentive programs the state and federal government create to try to get businesses to hire make me laugh.

If we need employees to meet demand, we hire them, period. Businesses don’t hire someone based on a tax incentive which equates to only a small percentage of the cost to hire a person.

Has the small-business person’s energy to be creative or the fear of taking a financial risk subsided? Most likely not.

The greater problem to me is how folks are looking to government to resolve our issues.

Stop it, take responsibility for your actions and, if you want change, then run for office or support someone you believe in who is running for office.

For those who are business owners, don’t give up, become hungry again and don’t let that sales lead slip through your fingers.

Mark Scribner


Walmart suit shouldn’t fail due to number of plaintiffs

I just read in the Maine Sunday Telegram that it’s up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if a huge lawsuit charging Walmart with pay and promotion discrimination against women should proceed as a class-action suit rather than an action representing an individual.

According to the story, an attorney for Walmart said that if the case is allowed to proceed as a class action, the class of plaintiffs would be larger than the combined number of active-duty troops in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

He seems to suggest that Walmart is too big to be found guilty. I’m sure that most people would be surprised to learn that so many people work for Walmart.

If the court finds because of the size of the class that a class-action suit is not appropriate, then I fear the country is on its way back 100 and more years ago, to the days of the robber barons.

What with today’s mergers and acquisitions, this is at least as alarming as hearing that financial firms are “too big to fail.”

Alan D. Johnson

South Portland

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