To the Editor:
I write in support of Ted Koffman’s candidacy for State Senate.
As a family physician in Southwest Harbor for over 30 years, I have repeatedly experienced first hand the devastation caused by a lack of access to affordable health care. That lack of access has time and again played a role in me telling a patient, a fellow human being, that she or he has a serious advanced disease not previously detected. That lack of access is sometimes caused by the unwillingness or failure of politicians to act in a wise and compassionate manner.
A lack of health insurance seriously hampers a person’s ability to get timely and effective health care. Tens of thousands of Maine citizens still have no access to insurance. A great many of them are working, but at jobs that pay too poorly to allow them to afford the cost. These are exactly the people the expansion of Medicaid (Mainecare) under the Affordable Care Act is designed to reach.
In many other Republican-controlled states, governors and legislators have seen the wisdom of providing this mostly federally funded assistance. You and I pay federal taxes to support this and receive nothing in return because in characteristic fits of political pique numerous times, our governor has vetoed legislation to provide for Mainecare expansion.
Each time, the legislature has upheld his veto.
When someone is diagnosed with a previously untreated advanced illness, it always requires expensive and difficult diagnostic tests and treatments that are often too little, too late. In many cases, if treated earlier, we might well have been able to offer far more cost-effective and medically successful preventative care and treatment that those who have insurance take for granted.
In addition to causing needless human suffering, the unwillingness of too many of today’s policy makers to act is economically self-defeating. They are preventing millions of dollars of federal money from reaching the communities in this county. That directly negatively impacts our hospitals that still annually absorb the costs of millions of dollars in uncompensated care. Hospitals are then undercut in their financial capacity to provide many vital services including, but not limited to, desperately needed outpatient substance-use disorder programs and services. You can draw a straight financial line from the governor’s vetoes, through the legislature’s failure to override, to these problems threatening not just the uninsured but our entire community.
This indefensible, unnecessary harm to our fellow citizens and our communities’ vital institutions needs to stop. We need compassionate and common sense health care policies. We need legislators who will work to enact them.
Ted Koffman, a candidate for the State Senate, will do that.
Dr. Julian Kuffler