LePage’s ideas about naloxone, MaineCare are dumb and dumber
Some rules are so dumb they can kill people. Take the one that recently stopped Ryozo Tatami from getting CPR after he collapsed from a brain hemorrhage in Maizuru, Japan, for instance. Why the abrupt halt of this life-saving procedure on the mayor of this coastal city? Because, at the time of his medical emergency last Wednesday, the 67-year-old statesman had the misfortune of standing in a sumo-wrestling ring giving a speech – and the rule is that no women are allowed in the ring.
When Tatami fell to the floor and a few valiant ladies in the audience rushed in to save him and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation as Tatami lay on his back, over the intercom came an announcement: “Women, please come down from the ring. Men, please go up,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The rule banning women from entering a sumo-wrestling ring is on par with the LePage administration rule that 19- and 20-year-olds should be banned from having naloxone to save their friends and family members from an opioid overdose, in the midst of a national epidemic that saw a 21 percent increase in drug-related deaths from 2015 to 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Maine, the increase was a staggering 39 percent, climbing from 272 overdose deaths in 2015 to 378 the following year.
And it’s not just me, the liberal media and Democrats who think that the LePage rule banning young people from saving lives is dumb and dangerous. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, the nation’s chief doctor, appointed by President Trump, wants more Americans to start carrying the overdose antidote to help combat the nation’s opioid crisis and save lives, too. An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with opioid addiction, along with tens of thousands here in Maine. Families, businesses and communities are demanding an effective and efficient response by those elected to govern, and Gov. LePage and his Department of Health and Human Services fail again by insisting on rules and red tape that have no basis in medicine, logic or human dignity.
The administration’s response to voter-supported Medicaid expansion is equally illogical and cruel. Maine people want to expand MaineCare under the Affordable Care Act to insure more people, as demonstrated by the series of bills passed in the Legislature and last November’s referendum. Expanding the program will benefit rural hospitals by reducing charity care; it will benefit county jails by picking up the huge and unpredictable cost of inmate hospital stays, and it will benefit local communities by increasing jobs and overall economic activity.
This, in addition to providing preventive care like vaccines and cancer screening and life-saving treatment to roughly 70,000 people, will cost per person just about what it costs to stay at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for one night, but LePage is putting up roadblocks to the expansion effort, and his DHHS missed last Tuesday’s deadline for filing a plan with federal regulators, once again blaming the Legislature for his failure.
Maine is expected to have nearly $130 million in surplus revenues during the two-year budget cycle that ends in 2019, according to the latest projections from the state’s Revenue Forecasting Committee.
The cost of expanding Maine- Care will be roughly $600 per person, according to the latest research and analysis done by Manatt Health for the Maine Health Access Foundation. The simple math is that in 2019, there are anticipated to be about 50,000 new enrollees and the cost to the state, after all is said and done, will be roughly $30 million, the foundation told the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee last week.
Six hundred dollars per person for health insurance is a good investment that will reap greater returns, and time is money, but we are losing much more than our dollars because of LePage’s obstructionism. We are losing friends and family members senselessly.
The bar has been set so low and the so-called “rules” created so ridiculous that more and more people are willing to sign up and take a hand at governing. What’s there to lose, right? A record number of women are running for office this year and that may be the silver lining to the vacuous rules of the LePage era in Maine. The inclination to believe that so-called conservative businessmen running for political office means if elected they will make bureaucracy easy and beautiful like using an iPhone must be finally rejected in the face of the overwhelming evidence of failure by the LePage administration when it come to the drug crisis. Government will not be sleek and sexy in chrome if stubborn guys who like dumb rules are in charge.
Businessman-turned-governor Paul LePage should rid everyone of this notion, surely, if the subject is naloxone or Medicaid expansion. He was wrong and continues to be wrong, and it’s killing us.
As published in the Portland Press Herald