Obamacare repeal puts seniors at risk

Early last Thursday morning, the Senate took a big step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, and Sen. Susan Collins voted to advance that budget plan.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation, and the Affordable Care Act provides a vital service to seniors like me. The Affordable Care Act would close the Medicare “ donut hole” to stabilize the cost of prescription drugs for seniors.

It also means that for the thousands of seniors who won’t be able to afford those new costs, they will simply have to go without, making our seniors less healthy and potentially costing lives.

Collins’ vote on this issue will determine how many families will have to bury a parent in the years to come. I hope and pray that she makes a decision that protects our families, exalts our state, and serves the best interest of the country she swore to protect.

Wilbur Worcester Jr.

Hermon

It’s shameful to not expand Medicaid

On Saturday, I participated in a community demonstration, Stand Up Aroostook, in Presque Isle, in support of health care for everyone. Seeking to acknowledge the anxiety that so many of our friends and neighbors feel about the future of health care, and to advocate for affordable access to quality care for all, we gathered with signs and speeches.

On WLBZ-TV’s Sunday morning news feature “Political Brew,” commentators remarked on Gov. Paul LePage’s weight loss after he and his wife, Ann, underwent bariatric gastric bypass surgery in the fall. They congratulated them on their way to improved health, and wished them continued success. I too would wish LePage and his wife well. It’s my bet that they have more than adequate health insurance, paid for by Maine taxpayers, to cover their costs.

Now consider another Maine couple, too overweight to be healthy, too young for Medicare, too poor to afford insurance. My guess is this couple would need more than our good wishes.

LePage has consistently and vociferously opposed expanding Medicaid and other health benefits for low-income Mainers. Most legislative Republicans have followed the governor’s lead on this issue, all the while themselves enjoying the option of taxpayer-funded health insurance. This inequity is unacceptable. Shame on them.

Stan Maynard

Woodland

Take a stand to protect health care

Alyce Ornella shared in a Jan. 12 BDN OpEd how the Affordable Care Act is critical to the well-being of her young son, who was born with severe birth defects. Like so many other similar stories, what is her family supposed to do if the law is repealed? Her son has a pre-existing condition.

Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times. If they truly cared about a better plan, they would have had one in place by now. But it appears that they don’t care about Ornella’s son or the nearly 20 million others who will lose health insurance coverage.

The Affordable Care Act can be improved. I have no doubt about that. Bernie Sanders could offer suggestions. Sen. Susan Collins is riding the fence on this with her votes.

Lynn Weston

Brownville

Collins stands up for Sessions

I want to thank Sen. Susan Collins for introducing Sen. Jeff Sessions when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing for attorney general. There have been many negative reports about Sessions in the press, but I respect Collins for standing up against those criticisms because she knows him. She said that she has known him for 20 years, and she has found him to be a “person of integrity, a principled leader, and a dedicated public servant.”

We live in an age when organized groups on the left and the right thrive on stigmatizing persons in public life. Collins knew that her support of Sessions’ nomination would result in harsh attacks from the extreme left. But she came before the committee to support a man with whom she did not always agree, but knew and respected.

I am very glad that Collins stood up for Sessions, and I think we are all very fortunate that she is our senator.

Becky Morris

Waterville

Repealing Obamacare will destroy lives

Eliminating the Affordable Care Act is not only morally wrong, but it doesn’t even make sense. When we eliminate the ability of individuals to access health care, we reduce their lifespan and quality of life.

When people don’t have health care, they don’t seek help for a very long time, and they wind up in the emergency room, which is more expensive. By that time, the disease is likely much more advanced and much more expensive to treat. This is not the way to do health care.

Additionally, we are destroying people’s lives by allowing cancer, infections, diabetes, chronic pain, mental illness and other problems to go unchecked.

That’s why Sen. Susan Collins should support protecting the Affordable Care Act or ensuring that any replacement will be immediate and cover everyone.

Lee Giles

Veazie

Obamacare helps disabled Mainers

In the debate over the Affordable Care Act, a large group of people who often are overlooked in the debate are the disabled.

Many know that once someone becomes disabled, she often has access to health care, but when she is in the process of applying, she is paying for her doctors’ visits out of pocket. The process for qualifying for disability can sometimes take years, and during that time, often in the early stages of battling health issues, people are left with inadequate medical care or a mountain of debt.

But with the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion (in states where it has expanded) allows people in that process to receive adequate medical care and to receive the necessary proof of their disability in the first place.

Here in Maine, we’ve already seen the ramifications of Medicaid not being expanded. People drop out of the workforce because they can’t manage their illnesses. People become permanently disabled because they couldn’t access early treatment, and people with mental health disabilities are unable to access the services that keep them going.

That’s why we need our entire congressional delegation to protect the Affordable Care Act. Then, this year, Maine needs to expand Medicaid to our 70,000 friends, family and neighbors.

Gail Crowley

Bangor