Maine State Senator Peter Mills

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Letter to the Editor of the Portland Press Herald
December 28, 2005

Public health programs more productive than Dirigo

Dirigo is now at the point of doing more harm than good. By taxing everyone who pays a medical bill, Dirigo will drive more people away from insurance than it may protect. The $40 million annual cost of Dirigo is now covering only 2,300 previously uninsured individuals in addition to funding Medicaid for 4,000 middle-class adults.

Instead of giving so much money to an insurance company for the benefit of so few, we could spend this extraordinary sum more productively if we were to: fund a statewide system for electronic medical records to lower costs and increase safety for everyone; deliver care directly to children through school-based health clinics; expand rural health centers where patients pay a sliding scale fee; or provide affordable dental care in clinics where patients contribute to the cost of treating themselves and their children.

For the same money, we could provide daily physical exercise for Maine's 200,000 schoolchildren.

Almost any public health alternative is preferable to giving nearly free insurance to families making $39,000 per year.

It is not the case, as Jim Brunelle suggests, that I and other Republicans have offered no alternative to the failing Dirigo insurance program being promoted (and advertised) by Gov. Baldacci ("Attack on Dirigo Health hardly seems likely to boost GOP's chances," Dec. 12).

Sen. Peter Mills