L.D. 1333 is a disaster. The new health insurance law will cause premiums to go up, divide public and private workers and allow health insurance companies to bypass Maine law.

Section B-6 of the law exempts state employees from the $4 monthly tax. The Legislature and its members have passed a law exempting it from a tax that privately employed citizens have to pay. It is like a governor saying he does not have to pay taxes because he work for the state. How is this fair or legal?

Based on my job (electrician in training), the law seems to allow for infinite increases. Based on age, the law allows an increase in premiums that is five times over the cheapest policy. Who wants that? Does the state not want electricians in Maine or people to grow old here?

Those provisions affect small health group plans, which many Mainers use. Where are the numbers to prove that out-of-state competition will push down the cost so much that I won’t care if my insurance premium is five times more than the cheapest policy?

As for competition, the law allows out-of-state plans to comply with the out-of-state law, not Maine. I chose to live in Maine, not Massachusetts. Why would I want my insurance company avoiding Maine law and subjecting me to Massachusetts law?

Idaho passed a similar law, the model for the law just passed here. People in Idaho have higher premiums. Idaho ranks 29th in the country for number of uninsured citizens. Maine is around eighth.

I don’t want Maine to be like Idaho as much as I don’t want it to be like Massachusetts.

Joshua Smeltzer

Debate of public policy is an important aspect of democracy. However, letters such as those by Paul Hogan on May 19 (“Health plan changes do little to help Mainers”) do nothing to advance the debate.

He has either completely misunderstood L.D. 1333 or is purposely misrepresenting the legislation for his own purposes. His statement that we will pay three times our current costs is ridiculous. The law actually promotes competition to lower rates for all Mainers.

When younger people can afford insurance, the insured pool is larger, allowing costs to be reduced for everyone. Seniors’ costs will be allowed to rise to a higher ratio than those of younger people. However, the likely reduction in the cost to the younger could well result lower costs for seniors even at a higher ratio.

The current state of health care insurance in Maine has costs too high for many to afford. That increases the costs on seniors since the overall pool of insured is smaller. The best way to ensure that everyone’s health care costs continue to increase (to 300 percent of current rates and more) is to continue the current uncompetitive system that has been in place for many years and never dealt with by previous administrations.

L.D. 1333 gives Mainers hope of controlling future health care costs. Only someone completely misinformed or pursuing his own agenda to the detriment of all Mainers would be against it.

Bob Osborne

It is with great angst I view the changes being made and proposed by the tea party Republicans in this state.

From opposing the federal health care reform act using taxpayer monies to repealing protections for Maine consumers to ending disclosure of financial data by the pharmaceutical companies, these Republicans are on a mission to destroy the security of older Mainers, families of disabled children and others.

Medicine in Canada is in most cases half the price it is here in the states. Many of us are already purchasing more expensive prescriptions through mail order from there while we’d rather buy in our own country.

Canada has universal access to health care. Vermont is following suit. Yet Maine, arguably a progressive state, is regressing to the failures of the past.

There is only one valid health care system. That is one that assures all its citizens access to the care they need. Only a single-payer, government-run system would work. Perhaps Medicare for all would provide that.

Howard Hanson

Maine’s new health care law is a prime example of how our elected representatives represent other interests than those of the vast majority of the voters. Allowing the insurance companies to raise their rates must have set off large celebrations in the executive suites.

Laws that single out single states (Vermont) for emulation reek of abuse in the future.

Best of all is the exclusion of state workers and legislators from the tax on premiums. I wish I could get perks that I vote on.

Ed Cullen
South Portland

Collins strongly supports removing lead paint perils

 A recent letter misstated Sen. Susan Collins’ position on lead protections.

Sen. Collins strongly supports safely removing lead-based paint from our homes, better protecting the health of our children. She understands that Maine children are at particularly high risk for poisoning because more than 60 percent of our state’s homes were built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978.

In fact, she organized a field hearing, along with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., in Lewiston in 1999 on the perils of lead paint. Her concern is why she led the successful fight in the Senate to delay the poorly implemented lead paint removal rules that the Environmental Protection Agency had issued.

EPA’s botched response would have actually endangered more children by delaying the removal of lead paint from homes because EPA did not have nearly enough trainers available to conduct the training that its own regulations required.

As a result of Sen. Collins’ work, the EPA agreed to delay enforcement of this rule, which would have unfairly burdened small contractors with devastating fines of up to $37,500 per violation per day.

This common-sense agreement will help contractors avoid costly fines while they receive the training they need in order to properly remove dangerous lead paint from our homes.

Kevin Kelley
staff member, Sen. Susan Collins’ office
Washington, D.C