National park right for Maine

Concerning a proposal for a national park located not far from Baxter State Park, the recent action of the state Legislature to ban a national monument could turn out to be unconstitutional because the state has no authority over the federal government.

If there were a statewide referendum, chances are the majority of voters would vote in favor of a park. Maine’s North Woods are a beautiful place — a good example being Baxter State Park.

Irvin Dube


Medicare Part D

There was much in the way of questionable governance coming out of the George W. Bush years, and Medicare Part D certainly falls into this category. A component of the otherwise sensible Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Part D deals with federally subsidized prescription drugs for seniors. Obviously written by the pharmaceutical lobby to benefit health insurers and the pharmaceutical industry, one of its provisions expressly prohibits the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating the price of these drugs. The annual cost to the taxpayer of this restriction is conservatively estimated at $50 billion.

Those of us who watched the bill progress through Congress were astounded that this provision survived to enactment. It didn’t pass the smell test then, and it still doesn’t today.

At long last, the House has gotten around to considering reworking Part D. The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2015 is being discussed in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. Incredibly, according to a mailing received last week from the PAC American Action Network, Rep. Bruce Poliquin apparently opposes the bill. Utilizing all-too-typical right-wing scare tactics — “You could lose access to the medicines you need” — the mailer urges the reader to “call Congressman Bruce Poliquin” to “thank him for protecting your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage” and “urge him to oppose H.R. 3061, which will limit access to the medicines you need.”

Poliquin should seriously reconsider his position. Voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District would do well to seriously reconsider Poliquin.

Rodney L. Hanscom


Address life-expectancy gap

With good reason, the April 21 BDN editorial noted the increasing gap in life expectancy between different social groups, mostly reflected in income level and education. While emphasizing that smoking and substance abuse account for a major part of the shorter life span of poorer individuals, other differences in factors such as obesity, unhealthy lifestyles and suicide rates also are worth noting. Yet all these observations and statistical analyses avoid the root of the issue.

Stress is the single most evident factor that leads to a desire for relief or escape in the form of unhealthy habits. Stress is an overriding factor in all our lives, but it is so much more prevalent and difficult to deal with when a person has fewer resources — less money, less access to healthy food, poor housing, poor education.

With increasing stresses on a planetary level — wars, droughts, floods and overpopulation — it is no surprise that individuals experience heightened fear and anxiety. With less access to any valid remedy, the poor are more susceptible to smoking, drugs, poor diet and so on.

Of course, we can never get rid of all stress. But unless we reduce it and help children and adults to deal with it through education and improved lifestyles, it will cost our society in more than just dollars. Isn’t it interesting, after all, that the life expectancy gap so closely parallels the income gap?

Steve Colhoun


Cain, Poliquin should limit fundraising

According to an April 18 BDN article, Emily Cain and Bruce Poliquin are set to break fundraising records again in the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Anyone who is familiar with the Maine economy should understand that we can no longer afford record-setting fundraising campaigns.

The candidates have watched the closure of one paper mill after another and the human devastation that follows these business closures. Small businesses and nonprofits have been hit hard by a rural economy that never seems to get its head above water. There’s no longer any justification for spending millions of dollars on political campaigns when families in Maine are going without health care, child care, medications, food and, in some cases, a roof over their heads.

Poliquin and Cain can set a new standard for our state and the nation by limiting their campaign fundraising and eliminating outside PAC money in their campaigns. I’m sure the League of Women Voters, Maine Council of Churches or Maine Citizens for Clean Elections can help facilitate such an agreement.

In 2012, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, candidates for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, developed an agreement that discouraged outside spending on their race. It’s time for all candidates to step up and take the pledge for responsible campaign finance reform. They don’t need to wait for an act of Congress. Cain and Poliquin can act today to make this happen. Let’s hope they do for the sake of Maine families.

Mary Jane Bush


LePage’s Narcan veto

Last Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage came to Bangor to introduce N. Laurence Willey as the Republican candidate running against Geoff Gratwick for the state Senate seat representing Bangor and Hermon. I hope their campaign will focus on issues as they compare and contrast their approaches to the problems that confront our region.

The governor introduced Willey as his man in Bangor, the man to carry his message. Would Willey, were he in the Senate now, support the governor’s veto of the Narcan bill last Thursday? This bill would have made Narcan, a lifesaving treatment for narcotic overdose, available over-the-counter to anyone concerned about the possibility of an overdose of a friend or loved one.

The governor’s veto message said the drug does not cure overdoses but merely postpones death until the next untreated overdose. My 40-year medical career has taught me that many medical treatments are, in fact, intended to postpone death while the root cause of the illness is explored and treated.

“Just let them die,” is neither a medical nor a humane response.

Dan Cassidy, MD