A plea to make dental care affordable

Dental care is a major issue for Maine and I am glad to see it getting the coverage it deserves recently in the Bangor Daily News and the Kennebec Journal.

My family has struggled with major dental bills, from getting all teeth pulled and needing dentures; tooth caps, braces and teeth pulling for our kids; gum surgery and tooth extraction for me, all in the last decade. All of these costs have been paid for by charity, through friends, family and generous dental and oral surgeons. Dental Care is health care and it shouldn’t be something we have to wait in pain or beg for. It makes sense to include dental care in any health care system since the connections are so powerful between the health of our mouths and the rest of our bodies. It’s common sense.

In the last legislative session, a bill that would have created a dental benefit through MaineCare was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. The bill is sitting on Gov. Mill’s desk. There is a chance this January to address this urgent problem. Please, Gov. Mills, for the thousands who live in daily pain, those of us whose overall health is being impacted by infections, abscesses and gum disease, please make an affordable and accessible dental care a reality in our healthcare system. Our wellbeing and the future of our economy depends on it.

Theresa Oleksiw,



A few days ago, as President Trump served notice to the United Nations that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement, a global agreement started by the U.S. to slow climate change, 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

The statement published in the journal BioScience lays out the reasons for the climate emergency with simple graphs and prescribes policies that the world must embrace quickly to “lessen the worst effects of climate change.”

The scientists join the International Monetary Fund; the World Bank; 70 Medical Groups representing 1 million providers including Maine Public Health Association and Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility; 3,554 American economists including 27 Nobel laureates; the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Science (IPCC) in supporting a price on carbon as an essential global climate policy.

Thirty-three Mainers (12 students) are traveling to Washington, D.C. next week to lobby our members of Congress to put a price on carbon.  They are members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, grassroots nonprofit that supports the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, HR. 763 which will provide economy-wide motivation to wean our economy from fossil fuels.

Under HR 763 a steadily rising fee is placed on the carbon content of fossil fuels.  Facing continuously higher prices of goods containing carbon, consumers – families, businesses, governments, investors – conserve and find lower-carbon alternatives. HR 763 is progressive. It legislates that the revenues from the fee be sent back to American households on an equal basis as a carbon dividend. Lower and middle income families break even or do better under this climate policy.  Importantly, HR 763 will meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Action engenders hope. You can call Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and thank her for co-sponsoring HR 763. Call Sens. King and Collins and ask them to support a similar bill in the Senate.

Dodie Jones,
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Bath-Brunswick Chapter,