Change drug rules

Our nation’s runaway opioid epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. Maine is among the top 10 states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths — 25.2 deaths per 100,000 persons — nearly double the national rate.

As policymakers, health care providers and treatment specialists continue to tackle the opioid crisis from multiple directions, we must be mindful that the same drugs that cause damage and death when abused can also provide essential relief for patients with advanced illness and those facing the end of life.

One way to keep powerful, addictive drugs out of the wrong hands is to properly discard them after a patient no longer requires them or has passed on. However, hospice providers caring for patients who require powerful opioid pain relievers at the end of life are prohibited from disposing of unused medications, even after a patient has died.

Fortunately, Sen. Susan Collins has worked to ensure that the Opioid Response Act of 2018 includes language that corrects this illogical regulation. She also has introduced bipartisan legislation that allows hospice staff to dispose of controlled substances when a patient dies or a medication expires.

There’s no single magic bullet that will stop drug abuse or overdoses, but this is a smart step in the right direction, and we commend Collins for her common-sense solutions to help stem the tide of this epidemic.

James VanKirk


Maine Hospice Council


Donna DeBlois


Home Care and Hospice Alliance


Andrews for Maine Senate

I am endorsing Sue Mackey Andrews for state senator for District 4. It’s time we all vote wisely and vote for the person who can do the most for this state.

I have known Andrews for over 40 years. In 1978, we were fortunate to have her come into our home and help facilitate services for our handicapped son. She was able to help us in ways that no one else could do. Services suddenly came into our lives that we never could get before.

Andrews became a very close and personal friend and has always been there to help. She loves children and seniors and has fought hard for their rights. I could write a book on all the good that she has done for so many people.

When you go to the polls in November, please vote for Andrews. She is a lady of her word and will always fight for our rights.

Susan Larson


Bunker for House District 137

I’m voting for Doug Bunker to be my state representative in District 137. Voting for Bunker is a vote in favor of character, intelligence and decency.

Sitting with me at my kitchen table and speaking to folks at a neighbor’s house, it’s obvious Bunker is a thinking, unpretentious and sincere person. He is not a polarizing person. He listens and cares about real people living in the real world. He is not a cartoon character. He is the opposite of his opponent, Larry Lockman, who has shown he is an unhinged extremist.

Bunker was born and raised in Hancock County. He supported a family as a clam digger for 10 years, then worked more than two decades at the Bucksport paper mill. He wants to help create a diversity of good jobs — not just a few big employers here and there but also lots of viable small businesses thriving together.

He wants to protect our sustainable natural resources at the same time and wants to see science-based decisions guide the outcomes in the Legislature. And he’s concerned that access to medical care has become literally a life or death issue for too many people.

After Lockman was elected, District 137 became one of the most weirdly gerrymandered districts you will find anywhere. It runs from Franklin (Hancock County) over to Deblois and Northfield (Washington County), up to Passadumkeag, Bradford and Bradley (Penobscot County). How does this make a lick of sense? Ask yourself why. And vote for Bunker.

Medea Steinman


Herbig for Maine Senate

I find the current state of our political discourse and climate, both nationally and at the state level, so disheartening and sometimes frightful. So it should come as no surprise that I sensed real hope for positive change in Augusta when I met the energetic, positive and talented Erin Herbig.

She hails from a hard-working business (Republican) family. She also comes with a breadth of both public-service and practical experience and a strong dose of common sense, adding up to being the obvious good choice for Waldo County’s next state senator.

I recently asked Herbig how she would describe her political platform. Essentially, she is here to work for all Mainers. She knows we need a sustainable, diverse and developing economy. She sees a lot of people working harder than ever and not getting ahead. Herbig sees rural Maine falling behind in the economy and is committed to staying at the table and working with whoever she can to make sure that our part of the state continues to thrive.

Please vote for Herbig in November.

Jeffrey Brawn


Europe gets health care right

Phil Caper’s recent OpEd about Medicare for all hits the nail on the head. It is a nightmare to deal with all the bureaucracy concomitant with getting medical treatment in this country, and it is relatively trouble free to get it in Europe, in my experience.

I’m a healthy 65-year-old and just had to manage the transition from employer-sponsored health care to Medicare. It was a nightmare of decisions, and there were no clear signposts to help decide which one to make. One woman advised me on the phone to select among various choices, depending on what diseases I planned on having. And all of this so that for-profit companies in the medical care business can make money.

Our experience in Europe has been quite the opposite. We’ve had small problems, but each time the care was quick, professional and inexpensive. No talk of copayments, physicians being “in the network,” deductibles, etc. In June, my wife went to an emergency room in Germany during a holiday weekend for an aggressive, contagious rash. She was treated within a couple of hours by a very professional German doctor. At the first of the next week the bill arrived: 28 euros. No copay, and we certainly were not on their network. There the health of the members of society is of prime importance, not profit.

Frank Owen