I would like to commend the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel on the “Our Opinion” column published June 28 under the headline “Maine kids’ health shows value of MaineCare.”

I would like to offer some additional perspective gained from many years of involvement with a nonprofit organization in Augusta that worked diligently to increase access and availability of quality health care for those who needed it at an affordable cost.

I, therefore, urge that this governor’s shortsighted and misguided veto of the expansion to MaineCare be overturned by any means available. 

How did Maine become “No. 1 in health status and No. 6 in family and community … .” as indicated by the Children’s Study? This was not happenstance, and no credit for those high rankings goes to Gov. Paul  LePage. These rankings are the result of the past 50 years of Maine people who care about the welfare of others working together to provide greater access to quality health care at an affordable cost.

Many state and federal government agencies, legislators, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and facilities have cooperated in increasing access to appropriate health care in a timely fashion for Maine’s uninsured and underinsured population.

This has been an intentional hard-fought struggle that has yielded results as evidenced by the recent results of the Children’s Study.

With cuts to MaineCare as proposed by LePage and sustained by his veto of the expansion of services to more 70,000 people, Maine will not be in this enviable position in a few years, once the effects of his curtailments are felt.

Additionally, this study indicated that Maine is “ranked in the 20th spot in both education and economic well-being.” What will Maine’s ranking be five years from now if LePage’s cuts to our educational and health care systems are not stopped?

There has always been, and always will be, a direct correlation between educational achievement, health care and economic well-being. These facts have been proven many times by many experts and studies.

LePage’s rantings, threats and misinformation will not change the facts. Maine’s No. 1 ranking in health status and No. 6 in family and community will certainly soon deteriorate, and Maine’s number 20 ranking in education and economic well-being will plummet.

It is our combined responsibility to make certain that every person has access to quality health care, a good education, food and shelter for themselves and their families. Then, and only then, will their economic well-being be ensured. Then, and only then, will Maine raise its economic well-being ranking.

It is my understanding that 70 percent of Maine people support MaineCare’s expansion. Now we need to quickly determine how to achieve this much-needed and cost-effective expansion of health care services for Maine citizens.

Our legislators need to stop being intimidated by this governor and his extremist positions. Our legislators need to bring this issue to the people for a referendum. 

Katherine Chatterjee, of Harpswell, was an active member in several health care nonprofits in Maine from 1968 to 1990, working for health care reform, is past state legislative chairwoman for AARP and a member of Capital City Task Force.

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