“One cannot pick oneself up by the bootstraps when bedridden by a chronic but treatable illness.” — Marguerite Pennoyer, MD, Sun Journal column, Jan. 24.

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution emphasizes the importance of “promoting the general welfare,” to preserve our freedoms and prosperity as a whole society. “Welfare” today is given a negative spin, when it is actually an essential way we help each other become successful, and stay successful if we fall on hard times.

That being said, accessible health care is not “welfare.” It is needed by able-bodied, employed individuals in Maine to protect themselves and their families from bankruptcy and poverty, from disease and premature death.

Those harmful consequences of being uninsured threaten all of us. Those risks are our enemies, not our neighbors in need. Those risks are what hurt us all.

Personally, we are still paying off a hospital bill, 17 years later, incurred when we were poorly insured.We treat patients who are choosing between food and medicine, or heat and medicine at no charge.

As a community, we need to be clear-eyed, honest and compassionate, and acknowledge that fair tax policies can certainly support what is truly wise government action to promote the welfare of all Maine residents.

We need to claim the federal dollars available now, that we ourselves have paid. We need to expand MaineCare — to do what is right, decent, and good for our vulnerable neighbors and to protect health and prosperity for all of us.

Peg Hoffman, OT/L, BCB; James Cogan, Ph.D., Auburn

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