Poliquin an ally for hospitals

Health care reimbursement for rural hospitals throughout our nation is very complex and becoming more and more difficult each day because of the increased regulations and decreased funding by government agencies such as Medicare and Medicaid, which make-up approximately 65 percent of our volume here at Calais Regional Hospital. We continue to work with these agencies, commercial payers and other governmental agencies to improve our cash flow.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the board of directors, trustees, medical staff and employees at Calais Regional Hospital to thank Rep. Bruce Poliquin for his unwavering help with helping reduce our accounts receivable from yet another governmental agency, the Veterans Administration, by 33 percent. Poliquin and his team have done a tremendous job in getting the VA to help clean up our burgeoning receivables and to receive payments sooner by working closely and directly with us and the VA.

Poliquin himself stayed in close contact with me throughout this time period and even arranged to have representatives from the VA’s leadership team from Colorado and Texas come to Calais to see first hand what the issues were so we could work together to fix them.

Once again, many thanks to Poliquin for all his help to strengthen our hospital’s financial position.

Rod Boula

CEO

Calais Regional Hospital

Calais

SNAP junk food ban not the answer

Restricting certain foods and beverages from the SNAP program, as the LePage administration has proposed, would only increase government bureaucracy without saving tax dollars.

There are thousands of products in the grocery store, and thousands more are introduced each year. These items would have to be analyzed and categorized to determine what’s in and out of the SNAP program, giving the government the power to decide which foods are “good” and “bad.” This kind of control over what Americans buy won’t save the SNAP program any money. Instead, it will create a food code more complicated than our tax code.

Policymakers should consider that more than 70 percent of SNAP benefits go to families with children. Another 1.7 million SNAP beneficiaries are veterans. And studies show there is almost no difference between the food purchases of families receiving SNAP benefits and those who don’t.

Maine’s beverage companies are investing in efforts to meaningfully address complex health challenges like obesity that are focused on all Maine families, regardless of income. Through our Balance Calories Initiative, we are driving a reduction in the sugar and calories consumed from beverages, both in Maine and across the country.

Instead of banning families who have fallen on hard times from certain aisles in the grocery store, our efforts might be better spent focusing on how to get these families back on their feet.

Newell Augur

Executive director

Maine Beverage Association

Augusta

Ultra wealthy try to sway Maine

Recently, full-page ads appeared in the Bangor Daily News urging readers to call U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and thank her for her “commitment to Maine’s families” as evidenced by her support of the Republican tax bill.

Readers were urged to learn more at a website called MiddleClassProject.com. And, in illegible type in the lower left corner, it’s reported that the ad was paid for by something called the 45Committee.

A little Googling reveals that MiddleClassProject is an advocacy arm of 45Committee, and it is devoted primarily to cutting taxes. The 45Committee is a 501(c)(4) organization that allows such groups to accept contributions of unlimited amounts for political and issue-based ads without disclosing their donor’s names.

According to the respected news outlet Politico, “45Committee is the only secret-money nonprofit with access to elite GOP donors.” But among donors to a companion super PAC, Future45, which must report donors’ names, are several hedge-fund billionaires and other GOP megadonors, including Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate.

If we’re to believe the secretive, ultra-wealthy sponsors of these ads have the best interests of Maine’s middle-class people in mind, we probably also believe in the tooth fairy. And maybe even in Collins.

Gary Friedmann

Bar Harbor

No more handouts for General Dynamics

General Dynamics is seeking a $60 million tax break over the next 20 years for its operation in Bath. The defense industry behemoth already has received millions of dollars in state and local tax breaks over the past 20 years. Tax credits the shipyard in Bath has been receiving annually are scheduled to terminate in 2018.

Now they return to the people of Maine insisting the handout is critical to enable them to remain competitive. Their main competitor, Huntington Ingalls in Mississippi, is seeking taxpayer assistance there. The public, who pays for these ships with their taxes, is not only being “double dipped,” but, in this case, the people of Maine and Mississippi are being played against one another.

It’s difficult to be sympathetic. General Dynamics is one of the nation’s top five defense contractors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. General Dynamics’ CEO, Phebe Novokovic, took home $49 million during her first four years (2013-2016) at the helm. Her personal compensation in 2016 was $21 million. A company that has the money to buy back stock, enabling them to be so generous with their top executives, ought not need to come to the public with hand out.

Maine taxpayers might be sympathetic were General Dynamics to diversify. Wouldn’t we be happier to see our tax dollars earmarked for ever-more-urgent needs related to climate change and population pressures?

Please, contact your state legislators to demand they say no to General Dynamics.

Dud Hendrick

Deer Isle

Life is good

The skies are darkening, and I look and see big, puffy snowflakes falling gently to the ground. Two cardinals, male and female, land at my feeder — a beautiful contrast to the falling snow.

My neighbor brings me homemade fudge. My other neighbor pals are busy wrapping gifts for the needy foster families and elderly. As the daylight ends, the holiday lights shine brightly.

My tree is perfect this year, with a wonderful balsam aroma. So nice to be in Maine for the holidays.

Life is good.

Pat Martin

Bangor