Thank you for the recent column by Dr. Mary Dowd (“Commentary: Dealing with addiction,” Nov. 22).

Dr. Dowd explains clearly that there are treatments for addiction that are proven to work. She shares both the data and her own experience treating patients with addiction.

She also tells us that we are not providing enough places for that treatment here in Maine. And she tells us the pain she feels when she turns patients away with no place to send them.

The solution is simple. We need to pay for treatment programs that work. We need to make sure that everyone has health insurance and that the insurance plans pay for the medication and counseling that enable patients to work, care for themselves and their families and stay out of jail.

Our police departments are changing their approach to help people get into treatment, but we do not have places for them to go.

Over the past several years, our Medicaid program decreased payment for substance abuse. This resulted in the closure of some of our successful substance abuse programs and contributed to our current crisis. Our state has also refused to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage so everyone has insurance to pay for the treatment they need.

It is a mystery to me why we do not do what we know will work. Are we too busy judging each other rather than caring about each other? Do we lack insight that cutting spending on Medicaid causes more spending in our criminal justice and health care systems ?

Let’s insist that our legislators and governor work together in the coming session to expand Medicaid and require all health insurers to pay for substance abuse treatment. It will be good for all of us.

Jane Pringle, M.D.