Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: On the Medicaid expansion

When I came to Franklin County in 1970 to open my first medical practice the cost of an office visit was about $10, a day in the hospital $35, and an emergency room visit $10-20. Today, for an uninsured person, a surgical hospital stay will cost at a minimum about $30,000, and a heart attack with coronary surgery $50,000 to $100,000.

Bankruptcy, loss of a home, and even death may follow.

The Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance in the open marketplace, and the expansion of Medicaid are currently under attack by the Congress and the President, both of which have prime medical insurance, paid by our taxes. The arrogance of this action is remarkable. Maine, with its current Governor and Legislature, in its efforts to copy the Washington model, have ignored the majority of Maine voters who, in a recent referendum, voted to expand Medicaid.

The inability of the uninsured to get health care leads to untreated chronic and acute illness which, when finally addressed, ends up costing the state and the insured residents of Maine significantly more money than the costs of insurance. It causes premature death and suffering for the uninsured. Mainecare (Maine’s Medicaid program) is financed at 80 percent of its cost by the federal government, thereby spreading out the costs.

The solution to this problem should take place in November at the mid-term elections. Vote in new candidates who will fulfill the will of the people and allow for Medicaid expansion and hopefully affordable insurance.

Christopher S. Smith, MD
Dr. Smith is from Strong and has practiced medicine in rural Maine as a family practitioner. He is currently medical director of Somerset nursing home in Bingham.

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7 Responses »

  1. The current administration both state and local have no problem expanding free or low cost insurance if it is paid for. Particularly in Maine. Voters approved the idea but provided no form of long term funding. Governor lepage told the legislature to do their jobs and fund it without sticking it to the taxpayers. They failed at that task. Show me the money, not gimmicks and not reaching deeper into my pockets and I will be all for it.

  2. Hey Doc, You mention prices, You went to school longer than your average run of the mill graduate, studied a specialized set of skills and work in your field of study, How many hundreds of people would you treat for free? Because if the medicaid expansion were enacted right now, your fellow doctors would be doing just that very thing. It isn't fair to them or anybody for that matter, to work for free, it is tantamount to indentured servitude. People scream that holding up the bill isn't doing the will of the people, in other words, the people want doctors to be slaves, work long hours with little to no pay, how can you, a doctor support that? I'm not a doctor and I don't support that.

  3. Joe points out what's wrong with "citizen referendums". You will lose your republic when the citizens discover that they can vote themselves all sorts of goodies from the public treasury. No amount of "help" is EVER enough. We are witnessing same either go bankrupt, or your society implodes when they're told "no, we can't pay for it".

    The latter is what's happening. People are very upset that the rest of us refuse to be destroyed by people reaching into our pockets for even MORE, in this 3rd highest-taxed state in the nation with little job opportunity but plenty willing to vote to rob the few who eke out a living. I laugh when they call themselves 'democratic socialists' and all, talk at their 'think tank meetings' about socialism - and then tell everyone they're not socialist, LOL! But at least the mask is really coming off now. We have a socialist party deconstructing our economy. The choice is VERY clear, more than ever before.

    Show the money, and it will be enacted. Nationwide, if you have $30 trillion...but stop expecting those who work their butts off to fund those who won't.

  4. Well said Joe.. However, I would be glad to reach into my pocket for a contribution to purchase a copy of Animal Farm for each legislator... With a requirement that they spend a day, after reading it, discussing in shortly after their opening session...

  5. Show me a 19-25 yr old that can’t afford going to and get a health plan because they don’t make enough money. They can not be denied coverage because of this. It’s absurd to put this on us hard working taxpayers that already struggle to provide for our own families. If they can afford smart phones and satellite t.v. they should be paying for themselves. If there is such a huge problem with the rising cost of healthcare than why don’t the hospitals and Dr.s fix that and cut their rates. Get rid of taxpayer funded narcan and put that money towards medicaid. The people needing narcan made their choice to completely ignore any health concerns they obviously don’t want it.

  6. I'm sick of baby boomers crying about the cost of healthcare and the gimmi gimmi mentality of said people who brought us to this point were everything is a crisis. You guys smoked and drank and drugged your brains out and now you realize it is time to pay. Meanwhile you expect younger folks to stay away from smoking and drugging and texting while driving or whatever so we can flip the bill. What do you care? Dr. Smith recounts the cost of healthcare forty years ago. What happened between then and now? And then he goes on to actually publish the last three words of his article! You have multiple generations of ill equipped both mentally and capability wise now. We can't just sit around all day and buy and sell insurance for a living to support parasites.
    You sold your soul to have government funded healthcare, especially Federal money. The systems are too large now and not enough healthy people joining because younger folks don't reproduce anymore. Thanks for this massive cancer you have unleashed on America. Federal Income tax is modern day slavery. End the Federal reserve and dismantle our relationship with global socialist monopoly corporations and banks that fund them. Maine can pay for what Maine can afford. If you can't afford that go to Florida or something. Welfare healthcare should be for widows and orphans or people who produce or produced in the state of Maine. Follow the money people. I know it is rude, but how much do you make now Dr. Smith verses 40 years ago?

  7. excellent summation of the issues, Chris, and thanks for writing.
    Hrtls is of course wrong on all counts. no need to go further on that.
    Regarding the idea the mainecare is 'welfare' consider the fact that 60% of medicaid recipients are employed and 80% of households that receive medicaid have an employed family member under the roof. when you factor in the numbers of children and disabled, who also get medicaid, the number of 'able bodied' , unemployed people on medicaid is small indeed.
    $15/hour is what a single person needs in Maine to survive (food, housing, health). the equivalent of $30/hour for single person w two children. those are the sorts of numbers that drive the mainecare expansioin need. What does walmart pay? what about the corner store?

    Steve Bien MD