S. Kamveris: People have to choose

I find it unlikely that Maine's Department of Health and Human Services’ budget crisis will be solved by imposing taxes on specific foods or beverages (Taxing our social duty to Maine people, Sun Journal, Feb. 1).

There is no evidence to support that tax impositions decrease the use of these foods. Furthermore, such a revenue enhancement unfairly impacts low-income families.

In regard to the food stamp program, it is noted that, “the state provides money but not tips on shopping or eating responsibly." Why not? Instead of implementing taxes, the state should implement healthy lifestyle education programs that emphasize balanced diets and exercise.

While I agree not all foods and drinks are life necessities, choosing to eat them (or not) should rely on individual discretion, not a tax. In addition to promoting Mainers’ well being, perhaps the state should also protect their rights.

I am sure states can think of better ways to raise revenue and allow citizens their inalienable rights to “live to eat” or "eat to live.”

Sophia Kamveris, Arlington, Mass.

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Comments

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Most people on MaineCare

Most people on MaineCare require a prior authorization for medicines or treatments that are recommended by their physicians. Most of the time these prior authorizations are denied or extremely limited. For example, 8 physical therapy sessions are requested and only 2 are authorized. Smoking cessation products are requested and are denied unless others have been tried and proven not to work. Maybe if the treatments that worked were allowed then more people would be able to get healthy faster or have the ability to stay healthy longer and the red tape that people go through would be diminished and thus saving money. Do you think the doctors do not charge for their time in proving things for getting the prior authorizations? What about the staff processing the requests? Their labor isn't cheap.

Going back to the physical therapy example...2 approved visits result in one being a consultation and one being a follow-up. Sometimes the treatment requires equipment that cannot be found in a home or in a gym. An ultra sound treatment is one example of that. Where multiple uses of this machine may very well move the patient onto the road to recovery it is not available for more then 2 visits because it isn't approved. That leads to more doctor visits, in some cases a worsening of symptoms instead of an improvement of symptoms.

Administratively there are also lots of waste. Multiple mailings that are identical which wastes paper, ink, staff time, postage, etc.

What I am trying to say is that there are a lot of ways to save money without drastically stopping programs. In the past there were programs that showed people who recieved state aid to make healthy meals cheaply and to stretch the food stamp dollar. However, even with these programs there are problems that need to be addressed. The cost of food has risen drastically over the past couple of years and yet the food stamp allotment has stayed basically the same. Most on food stamps use the less healthy items because it is cheaper and can stretch further. It is not always better to "teach them to fish" when the items needed are so expensive. Sometimes it is a choice that people are forced into making because of the cost. Raising the snack tax isn't going to take those choices off the table. It is just going to make people make even worse choices because of the cost.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

addendem

a 2 liter bottle of soda is under $2.00 but a gallon of milk is almost $4.00.....a person has 5 dollars spend which is going to give them the most for their money....the soda because they can get 2 bottles and serve more than they could for one gallon of milk.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

It is said

It is said if you give someone a fish they have a meal. If you teach them to fish they have continous meals.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Sophia, I have two

Sophia,
I have two comments.

First, California has already traveled down the “snack tax” road, and it failed miserably [1].

Second, unfortunately what is always missing from a discussion about raising tax revenue is a healthy discussion of whether services that we are currently paying for are necessary or cost effective. There are few checks and balances that help the public measure the success of public services.

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-10-29/news/mn-930_1_snack-tax

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