Support the budget

Balancing the state budget is painful in these times — all the more reason to do it equitably and with the broadest support. That is why I support the two-year budget passed recently by both Democratic and Republican members of the Appropriations Committee.

Despite the rare display of bipartisanship, Gov. Paul LePage promises to veto the measure because it includes new taxes. Ironically, the governor’s original budget proposal did just that.

The governor’s budget would shift the budget-balancing burden from the state treasury directly to individuals and local municipalities, most likely through property tax increases, while protecting the $400 million in unfunded tax cuts that largely benefit Maine’s wealthiest. Not surprisingly, more than 70 cities and towns throughout Maine have passed resolutions against LePage’s budget, according to an April 25 article in the BDN.

When Mainers are hit hard, no stone must be left unturned in the quest for budget fairness. That is exactly what the Appropriations Committee has achieved with the bipartisan budget. In it, the effect on Mainers is softened by temporarily increasing Maine’s sales tax by a half penny per dollar, closing corporate loopholes and raising the meals and lodging tax by 1 percent.

Now, it’s up to the Maine Legislature to decide in which direction to move. It can accept LePage’s way of dumping the burden on the backs of working Mainers. Or, it can be done the Maine way by moving toward a fair-share budget. Please urge our state representatives to vote in favor of the Appropriations Committee budget.

Mark Aukeman


Timely billing

Under new rules relative to Obamacare, providers’ bills must be submitted within 90 days or they will be denied. Today alone, between my husband and me, we had a total over $1,200 of provider bills that were denied because they were submitted too late.

Unfortunately, providers bill the insured for the unpaid bills. The explanation of benefits document from the insurance company says we do not owe the provider because it was denied due to their failure to bill in a timely manner. Last month, our provider billed us for those unpaid amounts.

We called and explained that we would not be paying the bills, based on the information on the document. They said they would get back to us. Of course, when they called us back, they said we didn’t owe the bills.

I’m concerned with how many people will actually pay those bills they receive, not understanding that they do not owe it. Now, going back to the providers having all these bills denied, I’m concerned that they will no longer serve patients with Medicare coverage unless patients agree to pay all denied bills.

I just can’t see this ending well for the patient. My advice is that patients read their denials very carefully and do not pay providers if they bill for a claim that was denied for untimely billing from the provider. My advice to providers: Get bills out in a timely manner to insurance companies.

Simone Engelhardt


Climate change denial

I think the headline “Climate denial: Seductive but not morally excusable” on the BDN June 13 column by Sharon Tisher frames the issue in the unfortunate but now conventional way. Can there be an “excuse” for “denying” climate change? The implication is that arguing against the consensus of scientific opinion betrays some sort of deficiency that requires an excuse.

The climate issue is complex. Intelligent analysis requires time and attention that few of us not in “the business” can honestly claim to have devoted to the question. However, the debate is not furthered by assuming the mantle of superiority — moral or intellectual.

In my field, expert consensus is accorded a low-level of authority in the pursuit of evidence-based medicine. The holy grail in medicine is the double-blind placebo-controlled trial and, sadly, even this type of study has often, in retrospect, pointed us in the wrong direction. Many of us remember the expert consensus of the 1970s that we were entering a new Ice Age.

It would behoove us all in this important and divisive debate to expose evidence and arguments from both sides to the light of rigorous and impartial security. Skepticism remains the chastity of the intellect. I, for one, am not ready to relegate the climate change skeptic to the status of the heretic in 15th century Spain.

William E Master, M.D.


Cutler 2014

I am writing in response to the June 11 BDN letter “Governor 38 percent” from Michael Gleason. The letter writer states that Eliot Cutler must “run as a party candidate or stay out of the race altogether.”

I disagree. Cutler is an independent, just like the largest group of voters in Maine. He neither needs to be blessed by a party nor is he beholden to a party. After all, Maine elected two independent governors in recent years and elected an independent to the U..S. Senate last year.

While I fully support the right of the traditional parties to run the candidate that they select through their party’s process, as a Republican I chose to vote for Cutler in 2008. I very much hope Cutler’s name will appear on the ballot for governor in 2014. If it does, I ask Gleason to join me in voting for the best candidate on that list, independent gubernatorial candidate Cutler.

Clare Payne


NSA violations

Collecting our data in the previously secret National Security Agency surveillance program, exposed by Edward Snowden, violates the fundamental principle that our military cannot operate on American soil against American citizens. That principle has been embodied in law since the 1870s. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, created in 1978, is also involved in this travesty by authorizing overseas searches and is being misdirected to empower searches of U.S. citizens. Also, this surveillance program mocks the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that limits government searches to cases of “probable cause.”

Eliot Chandler


Life and death

I never knew my grandfather. Before I was born, he died from tuberculosis, which he contracted from drinking raw milk. Public health regulations often make sense.

Nathaniel Bond