Letter to the Editor - Is the Doctor In? Ask Bruce Poliquin

If you were born after December of 1964 you have never known a time when Machias did not have a modern hospital with a trained 24- hour Emergency Department. While we can be proud and thankful for its founders' wisdom, the hospital can only operate if it is financially supported on a yearly basis.

The Calais Regional Hospital has already closed its Obstetric Department forcing women to travel to Machias or Bangor to give birth. What other departments and services will have to be cut and is it possible that we will lose our entire hospital if the budget and tax cuts proposed in Congress are passed?

What do tax cuts have to do with our local hospital? Logically, nothing.  However, to pay for the proposed tax cuts, the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal reduces projected spending levels for Medicare and Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years. Because the Downeast Community Hospital services a community that is older and poorer than the rest of the state, it is dependent on every Medicaid and Medicare dollar that is available. It simply does not have enough patients who pay with private insurance to offset the proposed cuts in government reimbursement for our elderly.

And who will be the beneficiaries of this tax cut? According to the Tax Policy Center taxpayers in the in the top 1 percent (incomes above $730,000), would receive about 50 percent of the total tax benefit and would receive on average an 8.5% increase in their income. Taxpayers in the bottom 95 percent of the income distribution would see an average after-tax income increase between 0.5 and 1.2 percent.

Washington County may be geographically a long way from Washington D.C., but the proposed budget and tax cut will have a direct effect on all of us.  Call Bruce Poliquin's office (207-942-0583) and ask how many of his constituents have incomes in excess of $730,000 a year and why these people should receive 50% of the tax cuts. Also ask why money that should go to our local hospital and nursing homes is being used to finance tax cuts for people are doing fine already. It is better to ask these question of Mr. Poliquin now, rather than having to ask ourselves in an emergency, whether the doctor will be in when we need one.

Jeffrey Lovit

Addison, Maine