Save MaineCare

Below is the letter I distributed to the Appropriations Committee along with my petition to stop the MaineCare cuts. That petition is still growing. If you haven’t already, please sign it by clicking here: Save MaineCare!

If you have a comment or a personal story, that has an even bigger impact. Your signature and your comments go to your legislators.

Then pass our petition along by email and Facebook! We can get these numbers up to 10,000! I know we can!

Lunden

January 11, 2012

Letter to the Appropriations Committee

Dear Representative Flood and Members of the Appropriations Committee,

As a social worker who works every day with some of Maine’s most vulnerable citizens, I know firsthand the devastating impact Governor LePage’s proposed $220 million cuts to healthcare services would have. One day, I realized I could do something about it—something more than contact my legislators (who oppose these cuts) or write a letter. I realized I could start a petition that would help all the people who oppose these cuts have a voice.

Eight thousand seven hundred and thirty-two people have signed this petition. Many of these people have added a few words about how these cuts are short-sighted and will cost Mainers more in the long run. Many have asked for compassion. Some, such as Matthew B, of Harpswell, have shared their own stories. Matthew wrote:

As an HIV+ Maine Care/ADAP participant, I need MaineCare to live, literally. The Governor doesn’t seem to realize that there really are people like me in Maine.

And Beth B, of South Portland, shared this:

I’m doing my best to get full-time work but am on disability for health reasons and can’t afford the copays for my medicine, if I lose my Mainecare assistance I can get very sick and won’t be able to work or pay taxes for the Government and will then become an even bigger burden since I have type 2 diabetes and can’t afford to go without my medicine please help to save Mainecare thank you!!

As DHHS testimony revealed, the shortfall these cuts are being called to address was caused by computer programming errors, miscalculations about federal funds, and mismanagement—not fraud or overuse of services. Many Mainers are frustrated that these cuts are being requested after $150 million in tax breaks were doled out this year and another $400 million were promised over the next two years, with half of these tax breaks going to the wealthiest 10% of Mainers.

Some of our Representatives have responded to our petition to say that decisions about these cuts will be hard to make. While the cuts may be hard for legislators to contemplate, they will be devastating and even life-threatening to the Mainers whose funding is cut. Forty-five thousand Americans die each year simply because they are uninsured. Make no mistake: these cuts will cause some of those deaths to happen here in Maine.

Please take a moment to imagine your own life without health insurance. Imagine, too, that you do not have any money for doctors or medications. Now imagine that you get cancer. Or that you have a stubborn case of pneumonia and need antibiotics. Imagine that you are suicidally depressed but can’t afford a counselor. Or that you have an addiction problem, but can’t afford treatment. How would your life be different from the one you have now? How would you survive?

I am heartened to be getting emails from legislators responding positively to this petition. I am heartened, too, that Maine Republicans have a proud history of independent thinking. And that you recognize the grave harm of the proposed $60 million in cuts to private non-medical institutions, and have now formally opposed that cut. Your vote on this, and other proposed cutbacks, matters. It certainly matters to the 65,000 Mainers who would lose their MaineCare; and to successful substance abuse treatment centers like Mercy Recovery, which would have to close its doors (meaning 100 lost jobs); and to preschool children from disadvantaged families who stand to lose their chance to get a critical “Head Start” on education; and to disabled and mentally ill people who depend on case management to help them live independently. And it matters to the 4400 people who would lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. Your vote will impact the quality of life in this state, for better or for worse, and your vote may impact whether or not you get re-elected.

These 8732 signatures add up to 917 pages. I see these as 917 pages of compassionate citizen engagement, and it gives me hope. The 8732 Mainers who have taken the time to sign this petition are sending a strong message to you, our representatives, that we want to live in a state where people take care of each other. That this is a Maine value. That this is what we mean when we talk about the way life should be.

I urge you to flip through these pages and read what your fellow Mainers have to say about this issue. I know that many of you are uncomfortable with the $220 million cuts being proposed. I—and the 8732 people who signed this petition—ask you to please vote with your conscience and make sure that Maine’s most vulnerable citizens are not abandoned.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Lunden
LCSW, LADC, CCS

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