Friday, March 31, 2017
We all feel the pinch of rising health care costs, and now Congress is considering legislation that would allow insurance companies to tack on an extra “age-tax” that would hit older consumers the hardest.
The bill in Congress, the American Healthcare Act, would have the biggest impact on consumers age 50 to 64, who are still too young for Medicare. I am one of those people. At 58, I could be charged five times more for insurance coverage than insurers charge younger adults for the same policies if this bill is passed.
Drug companies and insurance companies would reap big rewards while older adults would lose coverage or go without care.
Rather than target people for higher premiums based on their age, we should work harder for policies that benefit everyone, including lower prices for prescription drugs, better coordination of care, and elimination of waste, fraud and abuse that add costs for all of us.
The American Healthcare Act is not about health and it’s not about care. Instead of imposing an age-tax on older consumers to increase profits for insurance companies, we should focus on reducing health care costs to make health care more affordable. Making it even harder for older Americans to pay for health care cannot be the answer.
To all the dedicated Eagle readers and in remberence of the few that remain that may recall the “Month of March 1945”
It was at that time that world freedom held its breath!
The Marines and others were the first on a piece of Japanese real estate a few short miles from their homeland in that unforgiving war.
(Which way would the pendulum swing?)
Human life was the high cost rendered for world freedom. Let us, in a moment of deep thought offer our sacred blessing, for their most sacred cost!
“IWO Jima was its name”.
CPL. Fred Collins
United States Marine Corps
The Windham and Raymond communities are filled with wonderful preserves and forests with many trails to hike, snow shoe, cross country ski and snowmobile. I live near one of those nature preserve and I attempt to walk an hour in nature with my dog every morning.
This provides an opportunity to see the seasons up close and observe the subtle changes as one season instinctively meanders into the next. I am happy to say, hidden beneath all the snow, spring is making her way into our lives.
There are many faint signs such as the countless birds singing profusely, slightly warmer mornings and the smell of earth wafting up from the thawing ground. But the thing that stands out the most to me is the birch tree.
Leaves that fill the trees in late spring have not yet opened, leaving the barks distinctly exposed. This is when the birch grabs my attention.
The symbolic qualities that have been associated with the birch are: New beginnings, adaptability and stability. It has also been said that during the time of the nomads, the bark from the birch tree was an important object and one of the few things they packed. They discovered it was a perfect fire starter - igniting even when it is damp.
I once majored in Philosophy/Religious Studies - among five or six other courses of studies before I settled on Leadership and Organizational Studies - so I can’t help myself associating symbolism to everyday life. Here it comes. You can stop reading now if you wish.
If we took the qualities of the birch tree and associate them to ourselves, are we able to keep our own spark going when we have been dampened by the harshness of this wonderful, and often, very crazy and challenging world? In this case, winter? I’d like to think so.
If not, that’s okay, there is always spring and another opportunity to give it a try. Much like the changing seasons, we have the innate ability to adapt to the ever-changing demands we experience. Without a doubt, it’s tough waking up from and long, harsh, cold winter. But much like the birch tree, we can stand tall and stable ourselves, bringing back to life that spark that puts bounce back into our everyday existence.
Spring is here. I, for one, am looking forward to those sunny and long days ahead, putting away those cumbersome snow shoes for sneakers and the heavy coat for sheer t-shirts. I am certainly looking forward to those easy adaptations “required” of summer with feelings of new beginnings and possibilities ahead.
Friday, March 24, 2017
We all experienced the wrath of the outgoing (hopefully) winter last week in the blizzard that hit us; leaving everyone with yet another winter mess to navigate our lives around. However, the Raymond Rescue team and the Road Commissioner’s team of plow guys did a superior job of navigating around the storm as far as I’m concerned.
At 4 a.m., last Wednesday morning I had to call them to help me get my husband to the hospital. As our long lane had not been cleared of snow and that heavy drifting, had drifted high around our garage doors and front door entry - we were literally trapped inside. I warned them they would have to plow their way in; and they did. Not only did they plow themselves in, they had to shovel to our door. Not only did they shovel to our door - they shoveled in front of the garage door so I could get my car out to follow the rescue unit to the hospital. We would like to extend our deepest thanks to the Raymond Rescue. Everything was done so efficiently and quickly and with such calm at such a stressful moment. We want them to know what a comfort they bring – just knowing they are out there. We want to say: Thank you so very much. My husband did have surgery and is recouping very well; due in large part, to your efforts.
John and Gayle Plummer and Family
It’s a simple fact: Maine needs to grow our solar energy industry to create good paying jobs and reduce electricity prices. I have promoted passive solar and SEE (Super Energy Efficient) housing in Maine for the past 38 years. Finally, solar electric has arrived as a tool that can economically enable the building of environmentally necessary Net Zero housing, which on an annual basis, produces as much energy as it uses.
It’s time to change our old ways of doing business. Over the last ten years, the price of transmitting and distributing power has increased by 80 percent in Maine. Driving those rising costs are new and expensive transmission lines that promise a good return on investment to utility companies; while increasing electricity rates means customers pay more to satisfy their electricity needs. It’s a classic win-lose scenario.
Solar power offers a viable solution. Making solar power systems more accessible for Maine small businesses and residents helps lower and stabilize energy costs for everyone by reducing the need for new transmission lines.
It’s an opportunity to, literally, put the power back into the hands of Mainers. To do this we need sensible legislation to get there.
Representative Seth Berry’s bill, “An Act to Protect and Expand Access to Solar Power in Maine,” will supersede the punitive, anti-solar rule just finalized by Maine’s Public Utilities Commission that favors large corporate interests over those of average Mainers. The bill will also restore the state’s solar rebate program, eliminate the cap on participants in solar arrays and allow for third-party ownership of solar projects.
Combined, these measures will offer a powerful incentive for solar expansion, while creating technical jobs and delivering a boost to Maine’s economy by making it a more attractive place to do business.
In this scenario, everyone wins.
I am thankful Windham Representative Patrick Corey understands the benefits solar can bring to Maine and that he voted in support of solar in the last legislative session. I ask that he vote “yes” this session on Berry’s bill.
Thanks to Rep. Jessica Fay for putting the people of Maine ahead of ideology. I certainly concur with her observation in her letter last week to The Windham Eagle, that property taxation is the prime issue. For me it's not income taxes, but I'm not a millionaire. I am sure the governor is sincere and believes that his budget as proposed, is best for Mainers, but he is sincerely mistaken. Income taxes have not been a big issue for most of us over the years, it is property taxes that cause rents to jump, and force older folks like me out of our homes.
Each drop in municipal revenue sharing and State school funding means another rise in property taxes. And the Circuit Breaker Program used to be helpful, before it was gutted so that now I get a break that’s a fraction of what I used to receive. I'm retired on a fixed income, and the tiny amount of relief Paul LePage recommends for my age group in the Property Fairness Refund is better than nothing; not by much though, and no relief at all, no property tax fairness at all, is his recommendation for the rest of his fellow Mainers? Nothing fair about that.
John A. Dow
Windham, Maine 04062
School officials issued an email on March 3, 2017 with attached documents notifying that MEA testing would take place on April 3 to 7, 2017 for students at the Windham Middle School. The purpose of this message is merely to notify parents of Windham Middle School students that they have the option to opt their children out from this specific testing.
More importantly, the MEA requires that school systems notify the parents of the ability to opt-out their children from the testing, but the school has chosen to ignore this requirement.
Furthermore, I notified school officials on 3/3/17 that they had sufficient time to meet the requirement as outlined by the MEA by simply sending out an email to parents, but nothing has taken place to date.
This has prompted me to write this letter, in order to provide notification to parents within the community, so that they can make the decision on what is best for their child and not leave that decision to school officials. My purpose is not to express an opinion on whether the MEA testing is appropriate, but many would find it interesting to note that the MEA does not particularly favor the testing.
If you want to learn more, I would suggest visiting the following site: maine.nea.org/home/1643.htm so that you can make an informed decision on whether you want your child to take part in the testing.
The impact of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the so-called alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be devastating for older Americans.
That the newly proposed “fix” would deprive more than 24 million Americans from health insurance coverage over the course of the next ten years is reason enough to oppose this horrible new bill. However, the fact that the proposal would also allow insurance companies to charge older people five times as much - or more - than they charge younger people, is unconscionable. A 64 year old making $26,500 a year would go from $1,700 to $14,600 in premiums annually. Imagine how this person would then pay for housing, food, heating, and out-of-pocket health care costs.
If you are 65+, you will be impacted too. The guaranteed safety net coverage of Medicaid would end, including coverage for those who need long-term care services at home or in a nursing home. This bill does not consider Maine’s large and growing aging population. The bill also discourages at-home care and encourages more costly nursing home care. Even worse, the new proposal would make it harder for older Mainers, who need long-term care, to qualify for Medicaid.
As if the negative impacts for older Mainers aren’t bad enough, the bill also provides an additional $200 billion worth of tax breaks to special interest groups, while at the same time doing absolutely nothing to help lower health care or prescription drug costs. This is outrageous - given these tax breaks will impact the solvency of Medicare for you and your loved ones down the road.
Please join me in urging every member of Congress to oppose this measure as adamantly as possible. Please urge everyone to vote no - the AHCA must be stopped before it does unnecessary harm to thousands of Mainers and older Americans nationwide.
AARP Maine Volunteer State President