2018-03-16 / Letters

Health care affects all, have it or not

To the editor:

Lack of access to health care is a critical issue. We, as a people, are linked. Those who have access to health care are not protected from the problems of those who do not. Substance abuse and mental illness affect many more people than the designated patient. In protecting some, we protect all. Substance abuse and mental illness do respond to appropriate treatment. Moreover, access to health care and support services have been shown to decrease child abuse and improve physical and mental health. Our problems are linked. We need to keep all of us safe from preventable harm related to physical and mental illness by increasing access to health care.

There is hope that we can increase access to health care by expanding MaineCare. We cannot be serious about addressing issues like opioid addiction, child abuse and mental health problems unless we are willing to provide access to treatment. Meeting holistic needs is cost effective and results in improved patient outcomes (Henderson, Princell, Martin, American Journal of Nursing, The patient centered medical home, December 2012). The Affordable Care Act’s insurance subsidies were geared to allowing increased access to health care. Medicaid expansion was to be the subsidies for those with lower income.

The people of Maine voted to expand MaineCare in a referendum that won by a wide margin. If the Department of Health and Human Services does not present a plan for expansion to federal officials by April 3, the window of opportunity will have passed. Voters spoke on behalf of the physical and mental health of all Maine people. The voice of the people needs to honored for the sake of our health and the integrity of our government.

Susan Henderson, city councilor South Portland

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