Insurance barriers

To the Editor:

We’ve heard a lot of talk from both the Democrats and Republicans about what they’re going to do to bring jobs to our state, increase prosperity, reduce taxes, and generally improve the condition of working-class people living in Maine. But let’s look at their past actions to find out where they really stand on the issues.

In 2005, the Democratic Party was in majority control and was taking the State of Maine in the wrong direction, favoring large businesses over workers, jobs, health and the environment.

The Maine Democrats blocked an effort by Greens, independents and progressives to enact single payer healthcare in Maine, which would have given all Mainers access to quality medical care for free and instead gave us the privately run Dirigo healthcare program.

This burdened taxpayers with the profits of a private health insurance company, making the program destined to fail, thus stunting any hope for achieving single payer healthcare in the State of Maine.

Because of the burden of profit, health insurance currently acts as a barrier rather than as a gateway to care.

While the Democrats and Republicans feel that we should keep the private insurance industry involved in our health insurance, the Green Party supports public policy based on facts.

It is clear from the numbers that a single payer healthcare system provides better coverage to more people for less money. It is also a clear moral imperative to provide access to healthcare to all Mainers, regardless of income.

The Maine Greens support a universal comprehensive single payer healthcare system that gives all Mainers access to the quality care they need. Single payer will not cost us money, it will save us money. A study performed by an impartial accounting firm shows that after an initial investment, we’d save money over the present system in just five years.

Single payer healthcare will free businesses from the burden of having to pay for the insurance of their workers. It will free workers to seek fulfilling employment rather than being tied to jobs for health insurance. And without the burden of profit, advertising and large CEO bonuses encountered in the private health insurance market, more money paid into the system goes to actual care, meaning we get better quality care for less money.

While Gov. Paul LePage likes to pretend that he is just a regular working-class Mainer, his proposed tax policies hit mostly low-income and working-class people, all to pay for tax breaks for the rich.

But this isn’t new policy nor unique to the Republican Party. In 2009, the Maine Democrats voted nearly unanimously for a bill that would have reduced taxes for those in our top tax bracket, while raising them on low-income and working-class families.

The Democrats more recently have become interested again in “tax fairness,” but their tax plan did nothing to significantly alter our unfair tax bracketing structure. Their plan only tinkered around the margins of our three income tax brackets.

The Maine Greens, through our candidates for state legislature, have been calling for a complete overhaul of our tax law that would restructure our tax brackets and create a truly progressive income tax. The Greens are committed to improving the condition of low-income and working-class people and would use any increased revenue to fund much needed social programs and economic development.

People are struggling to pay their bills, and cuts to vital services like Medicare, food stamps and general assistance are threats to the lives of working-class Mainers who wake up every day on the wrong side of capitalism.

The Maine Green Independent Party is no longer going to sit on the sidelines and let both Democrats and Republicans diminish the quality of life and opportunity for Mainers.

In 2018, we plan to run a candidate for governor to challenge these parties, both of which have proven that they are only concerned with representing the interests of the wealthy.

If we don’t join together to challenge the failed policies of both Democrats and Republicans, we will continue getting the same results.

Asher Platts


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