Maine has 1,329,608 reasons for universal health care
Joe Sirois, retired military, Rumford
"When I talk about health care I often tell people that I am retired from the U.S. Navy with 28 years of service. I don't do that so that people will thank me for my service. My country has thanked me by providing my wife and me with health care insurance for the rest of our lives.
I believe that the mill worker is serving his country too. He or she is making something and creating wealth for the nation but doesn't know if he will have a job next month or next year. The CNA making barely above minimum wage caring for our elders in a nursing home is also serving our country and deserves the same health care protection that my wife and I have. And so with the teacher and the retail clerk and everybody else.
I could go on and on, but here’s my point: If my country could figure out how to ensure health care coverage for all of its retired military personnel it should be able to figure out how to do it for all of its citizens."
Alice Knapp, attorney, Richmond
Having once had taxpayer funded healthcare as a state employee, I now work for myself. The federal Exchange does not work well for the self-employed (among others) as you have to put in your income for the coming year, and I have no idea what my income is going to be year to year. When I looked at my last 7 years’ worth of tax returns, I found I would have qualified for an ACA subsidy in 3 of those 7 years as my income seems to floats right above and right below the subsidy cutoff, which I keep pointing out is less than what the average Maine high school teacher earns. I couldn’t risk taking a monthly premium subsidy or I’d owe it all back if my 2015 income comes in over the cutoff, so I am instead paying $407 a month for a lousy plan with a $4,000 deductible and $6,0000 out of pocket maximum, which leaves me exposed to medical bankruptcy should I end up with a serious recurring medical condition. “Shared responsibility” my foot. Some pay nothing or next to nothing, while others are thrown off a cliff. We need a fair and rational and truly universal health care system.
Edgar Allen Beem, writer, Yarmouth
"Medicare seems to work just fine for my elderly parents. They have a little supplemental coverage from my father’s union, but everything they need gets paid for – by you, me, the guy next door and a working lifetime of paying into the system. And that’s the way it should be. That’s the American Way.
That’s also why we need universal single-payer health care. We need Medicare for everyone. If we’re all in the risk pool – young and old, healthy and sick – we can cut the insurance companies out of the deal, in the process lowering the cost of health care.
The United States has one of the worst and most expensive health-care systems in the developed world. Obamacare begins to address the inequities, but we need to do more.
So let’s go – everyone into the pool. Our goal should be universal single-payer coverage like the rest of the developed nations in the world."
This quote is an excerpt from the editorial in the FORECASTER posted on February 4, 2013.
Joanne Moore, Brunswick
“Just think of the billions of dollars that could be saved if we had a single payer healthcare system. No longer would the insurance companies take a third (or more) of the money spent on healthcare. Just think what this would mean to a family - no more thousand dollar a month premiums! What we would all pay into the "pot" would be far less.
I firmly believe healthcare is a right. In a nation as rich as we are there are no reasons why so many people of all ages should suffer under the brutal thumb of the insurance industry. An industry that cares more about profits than people. And never again would a catastrophic disease send us to the poorhouse”.
This quote appeared as a comment to an editorial by Edgar Allen Beam, which appeared in the The Forecaster on February 4, 2013
“I don't know what the answer is, but something major needs to happen regarding the cost of health insurance.It says something that the only time I have ever had health insurance was when I was single and making almost $50,000 a year. My parents couldn't afford it when I was growing up and my wife and I can't afford it now.”
This quote appeared as a Disqus comment to an editorial by Edgar Allen Beem, which appeared in the The Forecaster on February 4, 2013
Andy Ford, Portland
“We should have the medical insurance system that France has. It costs about half of what we pay, and insures all French citizens with insurance that actually pays the bills. A good description of their system is in T.R. Reid's excellent book, The Healing of America.”
This quote is an excerpt from the editorial in the FORECASTER posted on February 4, 2013.
Maine could save 10% of total health care spending, or $1 billion in the first year alone, by implementing a universal system like the one that was developed in Taiwan.
Dr. William Hsiao, healthcare economist, Testimony to the Maine Legislature, 2010
Philip Browne, Kennebunk
“At 30 years old, I have made the decision to apply to graduate school at the University of Southern Maine. One of the requirements to be a student is to have health coverage, so I went on the health care exchange during open enrollment to shop for and learn about my eligibility for health care through the Affordable Care Act. The program I am applying for at USM is intensive, and I can only work in a very limited capacity, if at all, while attending the program.
I was pleased to learn through HealthCare.gov that because of my limited income while in graduate school, I would be eligible for expanded Medicaid through the ACA. But upon further reading, I was reminded of our governor’s choice not to expand Medicaid here in Maine. I thus fall into a category of Mainers who, because the governor has not chosen to expand MaineCare in our state, are not eligible for health care subsidies. Deciding to go back to school and invest in your career is a hard decision and one that takes a lot of time, effort and resources.
The added cost of loans I will need to take out over the next three years to cover premiums and deductibles through USM’s student health insurance will be nearly $10,000. This is a real cost to students trying to decide if they can afford to invest in their future and their career. Mainers of my generation are already saddled with student debt. The last thing we need are added loans for health insurance while in school.
Letter to the editor, Portland Press Herald, 12/11/14
Sheila Malone, retired nurse, Waterville
I am a retired Nurse and I believe the only thing that makes sense is Universal Healthcare. I need to be independent . . . I couldn't even afford the wheelchair, my copay, if I didn't have Medicaid. These things actually keep me independent, these programs.
Right now the only ones who receive the Care they need are those with money or great Insurance and this is wrong!
Excerpts from change.org petition to Vermont, January 2014, and from the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Faces of Medicaid.
Dr. Lynn Ouellette, physician, Brunswick
Protecting and accumulating profit by the health insurance industry presents an enormous obstacle to providing affordable healthcare for all. Insurance companies can and do increase their profits by paying for less care. This is a fundamental conflict of interest inherent in our current healthcare system. I could expand on this in many ways as there are many avenues to making care difficult to obtain for patients and difficult to deliver by health care providers, but the concept is simple: less care = more profit.
Mary Hunter, college professor and musician, Lewiston
Maine needs young people. We are the oldest state in the nation. We can and should, welcome immigrants from all over the world, but we need also to encourage young people in independent professions and contracted-out jobs to settle here. Farmers who can provide us with healthy local food. Creative people who enrich us with their artistic and musical energies. People in the sharing economy (think Airbnb and Uber). Allowing young folk to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26 is great, but then what? Most of us, especially in these independent professions, can’t afford health insurance in our late twenties. Universal care, no exceptions!
Debbie Atwood, community organizer, Bath
It’s simple: Everyone contributes. Everyone participates. Everyone benefits!
Reason #13450 billion of our “health care” dollars are spent needlessly
William Babson, Jr., M.D., Physician, Sinclair ME
(Letter to the editor, Bangor Daily News, September 11, 2014
A recent study of the hospital costs in eight different nations published in the September issue of Health Affairs has determined that hospital costs in the U.S. in 2011 were much greater than those in all of the nations studied. Lead author Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor at the CUNY/Hunter College School of Public Health and a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, stated, “We are squandering $150 billion each year on hospital bureaucracy and $300 billion is wasted every year on insurance companies’ overhead and the paperwork they inflict on doctors.” And our length of life and other parameters of the U.S. health care system are not as good as the seven other countries and many millions of Americans still have no or very limited insurance.
The evidence for a single payer health care system is getting stronger every day. We Americans simply have to become educated about why and how a single payer system works. Imagine that 450 billion of our “health care” dollars are spent needlessly and not on health care.
I suffered from what is commonly known as "job lock", which means staying in a job because I needed the health insurance
Kevin Twine, retired businessman, Brunswick ME
Throughout most of my career, I suffered from what is commonly known as "job lock", which means staying in a job because I needed the health insurance. My family and I have had serious health issues for nearly 40 years. We had constant difficulties and arguments with health insurance companies, and endured bankruptcy because a vital, unique, and very expensive medication was not covered by my insurance.
I had several opportunities to start a business, but had to turn them down because I needed my current employer's insurance. For the past ten years of my career, I would rather have worked in a different field, but did not have a choice because my employer offered good health insurance, which was becoming very difficult to find.
I am now covered by Medicare, and am grateful for it. If I had been so insured 40 years ago, I can only imagine what I might have been able to do.
Reason #15“Waiting for Medicare”
Anni Cooper, retired teacher, Freeport ME
(Testimony to the Maine Insurance & Financial Services Committee, January 9, 2014)
In my early 60's, while teaching part time, with no health insurance of course, I began to experience debilitating pain in the area of my back and hips. I continued to tutor and teach part time with the aid of one cane, then two, & finally hobbling around with a walker.
At the golden age of 65, Medicare arrived in a blaze of light and I saw an orthopedic surgeon who declared that I needed 2 hip replacements that could be done, he thought, 'less invasively.' When we viewed the X-rays however, he chastised me for waiting so long, stated that my condition had progressed too far. He then provided me with 2 'traditionally implanted' new steel hips that have carried me happily along more than 6 years now.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones.
Reason #16The ACA is unaffordable
In his new book, “America’s Bitter Pill”, author Steven Brill takes a new and comprehensive look at what the Affordable Care Act does and does not do.
Take 15 minutes and watch his CBS 60 Minutes interview, now on the internet. Here are a few quotes from that interview:
“Good news, we have more people who are going to get healthcare. Bad news: we have no way in the world that we are going to be able to pay for it. It (the ACA) doesn’t do anything about malpractice reform, it doesn’t do anything to control drug prices. It doesn’t do anything to control hospital prices. . . .”
“The hospitals have created in healthcare an alternate universe economy where everyone but the doctors and the nurses makes a ton of money, and nobody is holding them accountable. And Obamacare does ZERO to change any of that. . . .”
“Overall costs are still going up. Although Pres. Obama implies that costs are coming down, healthcare costs are still rising at a rate double the rate of inflation. . . .”
“Obamacare is the OPPOSITE of a government takeover of healthcare. Obamacare is the taxpayers intervening to pay the private sector for the already inflated prices that they charge for healthcare. . . .”
Reason #17Every day Mainters pay more for health care, and receive less in return.
Tony Zeli, Owner & Publisher, The West End NEWS, Portland
“The problems are well known. Health care costs and the number of uninsured continue to skyrocket. While many aspects of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are a step in the right direction, these reforms will not create the quality, affordable, universal health care system that Maine needs.”
Excerpted from testimony before the Insurance and Financial Services Committee of the Maine Legislature, February 9, 2011
Reason #18Access to healthcare is a human right.
Kathy Day, nurse and patient safety advocate, Bangor
As it stands too many American citizen's rights are being denied. Healthcare has become a commodity that is mostly available to the rich. Everyone needs access. We must not give in to profiteering insurance companies or other naysayers.