Mainers really spoke up at the State House on Dec. 14 in strong reaction to Gov. LePage’s proposed budget cuts. These cuts would have an extremely negative impact for thousands and thousands of us across the state.

I testified on behalf of the 72,000 who are in the Medicare Savings Program. I can only hope that the members of the Appropriations Committee were listening and heard what I had to say.

If the Medicare Savings Program is cut, medical care and prescription drug coverage will end for 72,000 low-income seniors and adults with disabilities.

Several years ago, legislators from both sides of the aisle approved the Medicare Savings Program for those on low, fixed incomes who were disabled or over 65 and on Medicare. We were pleased that the Legislature decided that it was better for our seniors and more cost-effective to pay for them to be part of this important program.

The Medicare Savings Program covers Part B premiums for Medicare, which pay for all doctor visits, preventive care, screenings and outpatient care and costs.

The other great part about the program is that the federal government pays Medicare Part D prescription drug premiums for all eligible members, so they have access to low-cost prescription drugs. What a great thing if you are a senior living on a low, fixed income of under $14,500.

Will 72,000 Maine people lose access to their doctors and their prescription drugs? What a nightmare that would create for our neighbors, our friends and our families.

Richard Farnsworth, chair

AARP Maine Capitol City Task Force

Portland

 

I am outraged that Gov. LePage wants to boot 65,000 people from MaineCare.

He doesn’t remember that we closed our state mental hospitals. We chose, by considered legislation, community-based care as a less expensive alternative to institutional care.

Also, we’ve downsized the Department of Health and Human Services drastically over the years by privatizing many service functions and reducing the state worker roster to save money, to support or enhance private-sector jobs and to bring our shared responsibility to the local level.

The DHHS now deals with private agencies – both for-profit and nonprofit, conglomerate and local – to schedule, supervise staff and bill the state and/or federal government for personal home health care, mental health care, child health services, assisted living services, elder care, early childhood intervention and other services, all in the name of finding cost savings in the model and delivery of care.

That “savings” was based on eliminating state employees, state employee benefits and state pensions. The savings were parceled out to the private sector, where the “former” state workers could go into a privatized job market and be risk-based entrepreneurs and job creators who knew the system that spit them out.

After the reduction in force, did we think that those professional and competent state employees would do uncompensated work out of the goodness of their hearts?

Instead of saying, “Uh oh, maybe we better look at who/what/why/when/where,” the bicameral Legislature outsourced to the private sector.

And even though we shot ourselves in the foot with that move, we’ll just yank 65,000 people from the program because we can’t afford them in our world anymore. Neither can we afford the true functionaries and the supervisory professionals who serve the population.

LePage’s plan would torpedo any job gains in the entry-level health care market.

Sue Burnham

Bethel

 

Gov. LePage continues to pursue a drug testing policy for welfare applicants. He has stated that he wants to use Florida’s drug testing legislation as a model for Maine.

Currently, Florida’s law has been put on hold by the court for violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, guarding against unlawful search and seizure.

Initial drug testing by Florida revealed just 2 percent of the applicants tested positive for drugs compared to the Justice Department’s estimates that 6 percent of Americans 12 and older use illegal drugs.

Maine’s own drug testing statute reflects federal law, in that jobs that require “safety or security functions” generally require mandatory drug testing of applicants or employees, and employers are permitted to engage in “for cause” or reasonable-suspicion testing under drug-free workplace programs.

Gov. LePage’s proposal for universal drug testing of welfare applicants is ill-conceived and would not meet the requirements of Maine’s own statute. Further, Gov. LePage wants to use Maine’s limited funds to pay for drug testing on a group of people, that, at least in Florida, has less drug use than the average U.S. population.

Jeffrey Plucker

Topsham

 

State House demonstrators must have flexible schedules

It must be nice that so many people had time to descend on Augusta last week. These people must work on second or third shift.

For all the doctors from Cumberland County who feel so bad for the elderly and MaineCare recipients, maybe you can provide your services for free.

Also, while I’m on a rant, isn’t it curious now that unemployment benefits are in jeopardy, that suddenly people are finding jobs?

Go, Gov. LePage.

Rick Ridley

Gray

 

Ending Saturday deliveries wouldn’t have big impact

There’s no question – it’s definitely time to discontinue Saturday mail deliveries! Who needs them, anyway?

Perhaps some post office buildings could be smaller in size, or possibly combined with other buildings; for example, the post office located in the Rite-Aid store on Forest Avenue in Portland.

Sandra Thuotte-Ford

Portland