How disappointing to open my Portland Press Herald on Monday and see Rep. Karen Vachon’s picture on the front page as a champion of those affected by Maine’s opioid crisis (“Legislature finally acts to address opioid crisis,” July 16). There was no mention that she voted to support Gov. LePage’s veto of Medicaid expansion. Opioid crisis advocates say Medicaid expansion is needed to adequately address the crisis.

I recently met with Rep. Vachon to discuss my concern for her lack of support for this important health coverage for 70,000 eligible Mainers, many of whom are being impacted by issues of substance abuse. She told me that we just can’t afford Medicaid expansion.

I am a past legislator who served on the Health and Human Services Committee and worked in the Maine Bureau of Health for 25 years. Let me tell you what we can’t afford: We cannot afford to have Mainers dying almost daily from drug overdoses.

In 2017 alone, 418 Maine citizens died from overdoses. We can’t afford the devastation to our families, communities, businesses and economy.

Fifty-nine percent of the Mainers who participated in the last general election voted to pass Medicaid expansion. Legislators who voted against this expansion went against the will of the voters and denied 70,000 Mainers this coverage.

Let me strongly recommend that we all pay attention to the upcoming midterm elections and ask candidates how they would vote or have voted on Medicaid expansion.

I urge the Press Herald to dig in and keep us fully informed about these issues and, in the future, tell the full story.

Patricia Jones


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