Tax Policy Worries

As a member of the federal community who served our country for years, and now a resident of Maine, I am deeply concerned that my hard-earned benefits will be cut to offset proposed tax policy changes. I ask my representative and senators to oppose such cuts to the federal community. I based my career and retirement planning on longstanding, promised benefit calculations. Any cuts to what I earned break that promise and denigrates the value of public service.

Congress is currently debating reforms to our tax code. Paying for touted middle-class tax relief on the backs of middle class federal employees and retirees is wrong. My retirement and health benefits were earned through years of hard work — they are not gifts to rescind.

John Covell,

Augusta

No on 1

I am appalled at the advertising supporting Yes on Question 1 that we have been bombarded with — in the mail, in our newspapers, on yard signs, everywhere we turn.

We are promised millions of dollars for our schools, college scholarships, property tax relief, and veteran’s assistance funds. And, oh yes, all those year-round permanent jobs. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? What’s barely mentioned is how all this is going to happen—by “establishing a gaming and entertainment venue in York County.” What’s not mentioned is that this is casino gambling run by one named out-of-state company who has played this game years ago—that time he immediately sold his rights and pocketed 51 million dollars. Let’s not be scammed again. Vote no on Question 1.

Joanne Hardy,

Brunswick

Yes on 2

In his op-ed piece (“There Are Options”), Jonathan Crimmins suggests there is no need for Maine to expand Medicaid. His solution for the poor without healthcare insurance is for them to choose a job option which includes health benefits. However, finding a job offering affordable health benefits is not a readily-available option.

While the majority of the uninsured belong to working families, the percentage of businesses offering any health benefits has fallen from 70% in 1997 to 67.5% in 2010. Part-time employees are often excluded from participating. If the benefit is available, the employee cost has risen: out-of-pocket expenses and co-pays make health care unaffordable for many. Low-paying jobs are unlikely to involve realistic health insurance options. To be able to opt for a job with health benefits requires having the necessary skills. Logistical hurdles need to be overcome: reliable transportation, child care, chronic health problems, as examples.

The idea of free health care for the uninsured via the “safety net” of ER and federally funded health clinics is naive. That care is neither free nor equal to the care of the insured. Un-reimbursed care in Maine hospitals has risen to $250 million, in part associated with Gov. LePage removing 70,000 Mainers from Medicaid. Hospitals, required to treat these Mainers, shift the cost to the privately-insured. Deficits also endanger the financial viability of small rural Maine hospitals.

Having only the safety net to rely on is associated with an unspoken option: dying. It is clear from several Harvard studies that being uninsured increases the risk of a 26- 64 year-old dying, when compared to the risk of a similar person with insurance. Before “Obamacare”, estimates ranging from 18,000-45,000 excess deaths annually were associated with lack of health insurance. The financial question can be worked out-31 other states have already done so, using Maine’s Federal tax dollars to boot. This is primarily a moral question: do the people of the US have a right to health care, or is it merely another commodity available to those who can pay the price? If you think it is a right, vote “Yes” on Question 2.

Steven Zimmerman,

Topsham