I am cancer survivor and have lived without health insurance for eight years. Even when I did have health insurance, I still was not able to access some of the care I needed. Today, even those who do have health insurance can’t afford the care they need.

Co-pays and premiums for those lucky enough to have insurance are consistently going up and becoming unaffordable. For people who require continuing or multiple-visit care, the cumulative costs of co-pays over a month, or over a year, can be staggering. Health care needs to be more affordable, and more people need to be able to access it. A public plan would make healthcare affordable and accessible for all.

I spoke with Sen. Olympia Snowe this week on Lisbon Street in Lewiston about health care reform and it causes me deep concern, not only for myself, but for the millions in this country like myself, that she is still considering the “trigger.”

Having a public plan as a fallback simply isn’t good enough, we need the public plan to be an essential element of health care reform and it must be implemented immediately. Even with a public plan implemented right away, there will be thousands of Mainers and millions of Americans that will still have to wait for years for the plan to be in effect. We have waited more than long enough and allowed the insurance industry to financially cripple our people and our economy.

Paulette Dingley, Auburn

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