If Rep. Richard Malaby insists I am ill-informed (June 22), then I must assert that he is disingenuous.
While he is correct that the MaineCare budget increased by $88 million, he ignores that the increase was needed to address Maine’s huge debt to hospitals, and to compensate for the ending of federal stimulus money — a shortfall that will not increase matching funding.
There is no new funding for Maine’s neediest. Indeed, the Legislature eliminated thousands of people from eligibility, and cut support for co-pays and drugs for the elderly.
He is also less than candid about Maine’s higher per-capita spending, caused by Maine’s compliance with the consent decree to provide services for those with mental illness.
The point I was making (June 16) was that we ought to use our resources and spend them wisely to encourage and support preventative and primary care, focusing on helping people be successful in the work place, within their families, etc., rather than installing a set of perverse incentives that generates more sick care and inappropriate hospital emergency room use.
The Legislature, in listening to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, a former hospital lobbyist, may have satisfied her former constituency, but by forcing those with the least out of primary care into waiting until they are very sick, they have done nothing to help Maine’s neediest live healthier lives.
I stand by my contention that, in the end, we taxpayers will be the ones to pay the higher hospital costs versus the moderate costs of managed care.
Richard Fochtmann, Leeds