letter to the editor

Do we let our people die or do we rescue them?

Posted:  Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 8:30am

Dear Editor:

You and I have an opportunity to save Maine lives and some claim we can’t afford to save them. Certainly families face similar decisions, but if their child, or father, or mother or brother or sister need help, that family risks everything to save one life. Wyoming’s Gov. Matt Mead lamented the $100 million left on the table for Medicaid as the state is now facing a $20 million deficit. Maine sent letters to every approved Medicaid patient without notifying their doctors, causing deaths and massive heart failures that could have been avoided. We did that and we own those results.

In November we have another chance to turn the tables back to saving lives of men, women and children by approving Medicaid expansion. Gov. Mead pointed out if the federal $100 million a year in sharing costs had been received more lives could have been saved and hospitals would not be suffering. Thirty-two states chose Medicaid expansion, saving lives and hospitals, while 19 did not.

Those who did not have Medicaid expansion also saw their premiums go up much higher. This is due to the mechanics of how insurance works. Insurance relies on actuaries who analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. All insurance needs variable groups of patients.

Medicare is a federal insurance program. Medicaid is a federal/state partnership with shared authority and financing, and is a health insurance program for low-income individuals, children, their parents, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Without Medicaid, states and state hospitals carry the burden of cost in dollars and in lives.

So whose lives are we willing to lose? In the United States one of 5 people have a disability (53 million). The largest group at risk are children and adults with disabilities, including veterans and working adults. Will we continue asking doctors to watch their poverty patients die and inaccurately blame a treatable disease and not the real disease of poverty as expressed by Dr. David A. Ansell, or will we save lives and cost by passing Medicaid expansion in November?

Jarryl Larson