Writing a critical letter regarding Noel Gallagher’s Portland Press Herald story “Elementary school kids learn a good run is fun” (Oct. 24) seems almost Grinch-like. After all, what reader can find fault with a program which encourages young children to exercise?

My irritation with the article is certainly not about exercise; it is the focus on girls to the exclusion of boys. Nowhere is there mention of a boy, a him, or a he. It is as if our public schools were populated by only one sex. Problems of obesity and conditioning are shared by all schoolchildren, and although girls may suffer from low self-esteem in their transition from grade school to high school, as a group girls seem to be doing quite well.

They are graduating from high school, college, and graduate programs at far higher rates than boys. And while formal physical education classes for schools have suffered in a series of budget cuts, why does Girls on the Run, which runs a series of after-school programs in local schools, focus their programs on one sex?

Regular exercise plays a critical role in the health of boys and girls. One can make the case that with the epidemic of attention deficit disorder, which affects primarily boys, that running programs may play an even greater role in the health and academic success of boys. Programs such as this should be sex-neutral so that all of our students enjoy the benefits of exercise.

Charles Radis, D.O.

Peaks Island

Limiting surgical options adds to cost of MaineCare

Dr. Douglas Howell, in his Maine Voices column “Cynical mandate for hospital care” (Oct.23), makes a good case for reversing Gov. LePage’s rule change of September 2012 that barred MaineCare reimbursement for the use of Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs).

As he notes, this forces physicians performing cataract surgery, colonoscopies and other procedures to use hospital facilities at twice the cost and a marked decrease in efficiency.

The problem, however, is even more cynical than Dr. Howell speculates. When this problem was brought to my attention, I introduced legislation to restore MaineCare eligibility for ASCs.

The Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported enactment, and both the House and Senate approved the measure. All recognized that this would save millions of dollars a year.

Why wasn’t it enacted? Because the administration refused to submit data to the Legislature that showed the real impact of the rule repeal. Despite repeated requests, silence.

What I learned from this experience is that there are ways to kill a bill that I hadn’t contemplated. One is to inflate its cost so that it cannot be enacted without unbalancing the budget.

Why do this in this case? Frankly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just pride: They made the rule change without considering its real cost implications, and were afraid to acknowledge their mistake by submitting accurate fiscal information.

The Appropriations Committee knew the administration was playing games, so rather than kill the bill, they held it over until the upcoming session in January.

By then, the real fiscal data should find its way to members. If not, Maine taxpayers will continue to get hammered.

Rep. Janice Cooper


The lives of the uninsured in jeopardy under LePage

Amy, our widowed daughter, has suffered from serious chronic ailments for a number of years to the extent she can no longer hold a job to support herself. She is totally dependent on government financial assistance.

Fortunately she resides in Portland, Ore., not Portland, Maine. Living there she has access to health insurance and the opportunity to lead a relatively normal life. In Oregon, as of Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented. As their law states, “More low-income Oregonians will have access to health care coverage, providing them better access to care and more financial stability.” That’s even as Gov. LePage persists in his futile version of Don Quixote jousting with Washington windmills.

The governor of Oregon has accepted the concept of the Affordable Care Act, appreciating the benefits it affords all the citizens he serves. The governor of Maine is more intent on keeping his vow to tell President Obama “to go to hell.” As a result, the lives of uninsured Mainers remain in jeopardy.

The Affordable Care Act is being implemented in its entirety or in part by any number of compassionate, progressive states. I am convinced that Maine will not follow their lead until we elect a compassionate, progressive governor. In my opinion that is another compelling reason to replace Paul LePage with Michael Michaud.

We miss our daughter not being with us; nevertheless, for her sake, we are happy she moved to a caring state that is providing the medical and financial benefits she needs.

Sam Kamin


Right-wing ‘studies’ blame the elderly but never the rich

M.D. Harmon would be the first person to tell you that “class warfare” is not only wrong, but the antithesis of all that America is supposed to be. That for the poor and what remains of the middle class to blame the wealthy and well-connected for any of our nation’s problems is leftist claptrap.

Knowing that, imagine my surprise that Mr. Harmon cites as gospel a report that prescribes generational warfare as the answer to our health care issues. Don’t blame the rich, blame the elderly!

Why didn’t I think of that? Obviously it’s those who live on those exorbitant $1,200 monthly Social Security payments and demand such luxuries as insulin and oxygen that are the root of our problems, not the well-connected profiteers or the epidemic graft and corruption in Washington that drives our dysfunctional system.

Never dare to question the uninhibited influence of the big pharma and the insurance industries in Washington. No, it is obviously those who made the poor choices of growing old and getting sick that are to blame. Tough luck for them.

The right wing think tanks and moneyed special interests who control them churn out these skewed reports and “studies” as a way to muddy the waters – to divide and conquer the nonwealthy. They then rely on their dutiful muddy-water carriers like Mr. Harmon to pass along their self-serving versions of reality to the masses.

Brush aside the prose and you’ll find these “studies” inevitably and without the slightest variation always arrive at the same greed-driven end. Blame the poor, the weak, the voiceless and the powerless for our problems. To do otherwise would be un-American.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach


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