Collins stands up for Maine’s health

Mainers breathed a huge sigh of relief when the American Health Care Act failed to get enough support to move through Congress.

Thankfully, this damaging proposal was stopped, never making it to the House floor for a vote. It would have cost Maine an estimated $1 billion in federal funds over the next decade that are used to pay for health services for older Mainers, people with disabilities and Maine children.

Sen. Susan Collins deserves our thanks for highlighting aspects of the American Health Care Act that would have resulted in a loss of coverage for 14 million Americans next year alone. Her strong statements provided important insight about how the proposed bill would disproportionately harm older, rural Americans. And her opposition encouraged moderate Republicans in the House to hold the line and protect access to health care.

Maine has the oldest average age in the nation, and her concerns are well founded. Drastic restructuring of Medicaid would shift billions of dollars in costs to states, hospitals, Medicaid beneficiaries and others who buy insurance. The impact would have been devastating.

Medicaid provides health care to one in every five Mainers, with two in three Maine nursing home residents relying on the program.

Collins’ concerns about drastic reductions in coverage for vulnerable populations should act as a guiding principle as Congress debates this issue. We hope other members of Congress will recognize the critical role Medicaid plays in people’s lives, in our health care system and our economy.

Robyn Merrill

Executive director

Maine Equal Justice Partners


Reduce youth substance abuse

An Oct. 1, 2016, BDN editorial, “How legislators can help schools prevent drug use,” discussed important actions needed from the state, such as requiring prevention efforts, funding prevention programs, and hiring a team to advise schools on how to implement programs and train their staff. Previously, bills have been proposed, but not passed. This editorial called on legislators to support schools’ substance use prevention efforts.

Legislators listened and have now proposed a bill — LD 144 — to create a pilot project to reduce substance use disorders among youth in Piscataquis County, and then use it as a model for all Maine communities. This bill provides funding for the implementation of the program by a local nonprofit agency with expertise in this subject. Staff will be trained, children will be screened, and the program will be evaluated for effectiveness and ease of replication in other communities.

This legislation positively affects all youth, especially those who may be at a higher risk for developing a substance use disorder. It will likely reduce the stigma around substance use disorders and provide youth with the tools they need to be productive members of their communities.

This bill is the type of support for which schools and communities in Maine have been asking. Now it is our turn to support the legislators’ efforts to pass this bill. I urge readers to write, call, or email their representatives in support of this bill.

Shannon Simpson


Good-bye to Emmet Meara

A sad good-bye to Emmet Meara’s column. His columns often made me believe he was reading my mind. They were either informative, really funny, or contained comments on today’s society that greatly entertained me.

I don’t know Meara, but I once wrote him a note to tell him I was his No. 1 fan. He responded to tell me thanks, but that I am No. 2. When I foolishly asked about his No. 1 fan, he quickly responded “Blue Eyes.”

I hope he knows he is missed.

Linda H. Lord


Getting old is weird

Every generation feels like they had it a bit tougher than the next. Technological advancements in the past couple decades have perpetuated this and also changed what it feels like to grow up.

The generation of people born pre-2000 can identify as “‘90s kids.” This group grew up in the age of nostalgia as they were able to look back on themselves growing up through the evolution of media. The internet has made everything so accessible that we can look back and find the television shows we watched as kids or the video game on a floppy disk that we played on the house computer. Technology advances almost exponentially, so we have seen the fastest growing tech industry in memory.

The first iPhone came out in 2007. There have been 15 different models released since and each has been more advanced than the last. I can still remember playing Brick on my dad’s indestructible blue Nokia brick and begging for the Motorola Razr. Kids in grade school now have the newest smartphone and kids now don’t know how to play outside anymore.

People part of the ‘90s kids era are finally becoming almost as jaded towards the younger generations as our parents were towards ours. Getting old is weird.

James Deane


Democrats ruined the Senate

At one time, the U.S. Senate was considered the greatest deliberative body in the world. Now it is the most partisan. As Sen. Charles Schumer and the Democrats cry foul about the use of “ the nuclear option” to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, let’s look how we got here and just who destroyed the deliberative process in the Senate.

First, the 60 vote threshold was meant to force compromise, thereby giving the minority party some voice in nominations and the senatorial process. President Barack Obama could not get some of his appointees nominated so then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats changed Senate rules (the nuclear option) so they would not have to compromise. Judges and other nominees were confirmed, with no compromise.

Next, after Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat in Massachusetts, denying the 60 votes to pass Obamacare, Democrats changed the rules again to get that passed on a straight majority vote. No compromises here.

The Democrats were told these actions would come back to haunt them. Now that they have, they are crying foul.

Sens. Reid and Schumer, et al, killed the Senate, the Republicans just finished the job they began by putting the last nail in the coffin.

The Bible states, “What you sow you shall reap.” I wonder how the folks that ruined the Senate are enjoying the fruits of their labor? Sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me.

Bob Mercer