As a physician, I applaud Pat Colwell’s article about Dirigo Health (Jan. 8), a program which helps fulfill the wish on the I-95 sign, “Maine, life as it ought to be.” It dismays me, however, that Dirigo Health is a political football this election year. Let’s not forget the way life used to be. Then, 130,000 Mainers had no medical insurance if they sustained a disabling injury or were struck by cancer or heart disease. Colwell cites the huge achievement since Dirigo Health became law less than two-and-a-half years ago: Maine’s medically uninsured population declined by 5 percent compared to a nationwide increase. Other states now want to emulate what we’ve achieved.

We take good health for granted, but before Dirigo Health, sickness could have caused a personal financial disaster. Under the Dirigo law, every Mainer has a health insurance safety net even when a commercial insurer would charge unaffordable premiums because of a “pre-existing condition.”

I hope that Colwell’s article remains at hand the next time Sun Journal readers meet critics of Dirigo Health. Ask them this question: “What is your plan to protect the health of Mainers now and in the future?” If their answer only focuses on fuzzy math, know their real answer: “Your health is less important than the money I save by not insuring you.” That’s not life as it ought to be.

Charles Arnold, M.D., Topsham


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