Credit: George Danby / BDN

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Action, not just awareness

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most people mean well when they support it, but there’s more than meets the eye.

Empty expressions like “Think Pink” mean nothing and offer no direction. Over time, an industry has grown that thrives on pinkness and raising awareness; however, the number of individuals dying from the disease has not changed significantly. Breast cancer kills about 42,000 women and 520 men in the United States each year. Awareness alone won’t save them.

There are two groups that do productive work towards ending breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) views ending breast cancer more as a political than a medical problem. They want advocates to contact their senators and legislators to advocate for passing legislation. One concrete action would be to urge our representatives to support the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act, H.R. 2178 and S.1374.

Breast Cancer Action (BCA) is a watchdog organization that alerts to toxins in the environment that increase the risk of breast cancer. They have called out the Environment Protection Agency for prioritizing profit at the expense of the environment and the National Cancer Institute for down playing the links between exposure to environmental toxins and breast cancer.

A pink ribbon never changed a life but meaningful action has. The NBCC reminds us in their “Stop the Clock” campaign that every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer. Get on their mailing list at or and be constructively aware every month, not just in October. Start this November!

Nancy Greene

Deer Isle

Buyers beware with Medicare Advantage

The OpEd by Robert Moffit of the Heritage Foundation published in the BDN on Oct. 21 is deceitful and misrepresents the advantages of Medicare Advantage plans for seniors. The Heritage Foundation, which touts itself as the voice of conservatives, small government, and individual responsibility, touts Medicare Advantage plans as exemplars of free market medical care. They offer more services (hearing, eyes, dental, and more), have lower premiums, and greater options than traditional Medicare.

Moffitt does not mention the debits of Medicare Advantage: frequent high deductibles and copays; lack of complete coverage of Part A, B, and D; narrow networks of providers; inconsistent and confusing coverage; overcharges; and more. A more basic problem: he makes no mention of where the money comes from.

It turns out that our government, the very government that the author decries, heavily subsidizes these plans. We the taxpayers are underwriting them. The health insurance industry is smiling all the way to the bank. The equations are complex but data indicates that Medicare Advantage plans cost Medicare an estimated 10-12 percent more than traditional Medicare.

Seniors need to know the details of Medicare Advantage plans as they shop for health care plans at the end of the year. Buyers beware! Such half-truths from the Heritage Foundation merit our scorn.

Sen. Geoff Gratwick


The duty of elected officials

Edmund Burke ( 1729-1797), Irish-born English statesman, once opined in speaking of an elected official’s responsibility to his constituents, as follows: “It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interests to his own … but his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.”

How quaint!

Bill Kelly, Sr.