July 13, 2013

Numbers don't add up for Maine's working poor

Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, age 26 and others of his ilk (young whippersnappers) are either callously unconcerned or willfully ignorant about living conditions of the working poor in Maine.

He and his cohorts choose not to accept millions in federal dollars to extend MaineCare coverage under the Affordable Care Act to the working poor, who earn 138 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Pouliot has shown willful ignorance about the working poor by saying that a premium of $116 per month ($26.79 per week) for health insurance is affordable for the working poor.

Let's look at the numbers. A person working 30 hours per week (so the company can avoid paying benefits), for $10.16 per hour, would earn 138 percent the federal poverty level, or $304.93. After taxes of about $30, rent with utilities included $125; food ,$75; gasoline to get to work, $30; telephone, $27; savings of $4 to register an old vehicle; vehicle insurance, $10; clothing, $5; vehicle maintenance, $10, and repairs $10. Adding that up, already $12.07 more than the paycheck will have been spent.

Where exactly would the $26.79 for private health insurance come from? And, don't forget, after paying the health insurance premium, to use the insurance, the thousands in deductible have to be paid and the co-pay of at least 20 percent has to be paid.

Pouliot and those others opposing extending MaineCare are willfully ignorant of the facts or callously unconcerned that the emergency room is the only health care plan for the working poor. There are 64,000 of them. What do you suppose that costs all the rest of us? Many in the Legislature don't understand the old adage, "We can pay now, or we will pay later."

Jim Chiddix, Waterville

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