Letter to the Editor: Health reform and the state budget

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After witnessing President Obama’s strong presentation on the need for health care reform last night, I was left with a question that I know affects greatly the state of Maine. My concern is for our public institutions, especially schools, including the UMaine system, all of which are being hit by ever-rising premiums for the health care insurance of their employees.

When Obama explained how he would propose to use the so-called “public option,” it appeared to be available only to those people who are currently uninsured and who would, under this plan, make an effort to obtain health insurance.

My question to Senators Snowe and Collins is this: As they watch our school systems struggle mightily under overbearing health care costs, do they not see the stranglehold that the insurance giants hold over the state of Maine (and all other states trying to meet their budgets)? Why are they unwilling to push for a way to bring down EXISTING costs of premiums to our schools and public institutions? It seems a public option would be such a way.

Obama himself has said that the cost “of doing nothing would result in insurance premiums doubling for most Americans over the next decade.”

We have already watched this play out on the dwindling paychecks of Maine workers who are “lucky” enough to have any insurance at all.

In vigorous defense of the need for real reform, I plead with our members of Congress, (especially Senator Snowe with the conflicting factors of her membership on the Gang of Six now formatting legislation vs. her own receipt of insurance company campaign contributions). I plead with them to examine how this issue intersects with our state budget and to explore every means of using the public option more extensively, for we, the public.

Eileen Kreutz

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