[HCCN] Fwd: More on the Cuts

Dick Atlee atlee at umd.edu
Sun May 13 21:41:52 EDT 2012


Pretty harsh situation. Ms. Lunden is a very forceful and articulate person!

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	More on the Cuts
Date: 	Sun, 13 May 2012 20:36:08 -0400
From: 	Jennifer Lunden LCSW, LADC, CCS 
<center at thecenterforcreativehealing.com>

Hi All,

I'm sorry, but in my rush to get things out last night, I forgot to
include a new petition you can sign. Although the best thing you can do
is contact the Republican legislators listed in the previous message,
it can also help to sign this petition. It was written by Representative
Jon Hinck, who reached out to me after I did the first petition and has
been a wonderful support since then.

Here's the link to this new petition to sign:

         http://signon.org/sign/no-more-cuts-for-maines

Also, don't forget, THIS Tuesday, there will be a SILENT PROTEST between
the House and Senate chambers. People will meet at the State House
between 9:30 and 11 a.m. as the deliberations get underway. Wear black
if you are so inclined. It is to be a somber event and there will be
press coverage.

I love hearing from those of you who have called or emailed these
legislators! Please keep sending in the reports!

In the meantime, I thought you might like to read the email I sent to
key Republican legislators:

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Legislator,

My name is Jennifer Lunden, and I am the one who hand delivered to Rep.
Patrick Flood the 9000+ signatures on the petition I wrote to protect
MaineCare from the flagrant cuts proposed by our Governor. I have sent
out an update to all of my signers to let them know that your party is
now planning to push through significant cuts that will make life even
harder for low-income and disabled Mainers. Expect to be hearing from
them today.

I have also let these concerned citizens know that Maine Revenue
Services has come up with an additional $50 million in revenue
forecasting increases, and that these draconian cuts should therefore
not be necessary but are part of a larger Republican agenda, evidenced
by support for the latest round of tax cuts that benefit the rich more
than they benefit middle-class or low-income families, and the
simultaneous slashing of services to our most vulnerable citizens.

Over nine thousand signatures is a lot for a petition about a state
issue, but it is nothing compared to the number of actual of Mainers who
do not feel represented by our Governor (remember, 61% did not vote for
him) and this Republican agenda. As recent events in Greece and France
show, austerity measures are not taken to kindly; those parties were
ousted.

I don’t know many of you personally, but I know that most of you
entered politics because you wanted to make the world a better place. I
ask that you take a moment to reflect on your values.

Because here is the thing. When people in need lose their health
insurance, they don’t stop being sick. In fact, what happens is they put
off medical care for longer and get sicker and then wind up in the ER.
The hospitals then treat them and take a loss, and that loss gets passed
on to private insurances. And then what happens? The rates get passed
on. Which costs businesses more money, and costs consumers more money.
Plain and simple, it’s bad for business and bad for the economy. The
cuts you are considering will also cost jobs.

And cutting family planning services by 25%?? From the party that says
it doesn’t want people to get abortions?? Really?

I am a mental health and substance abuse counselor, and the founder and
Executive Director of the Center for Creative Healing, an agency in
Southern Maine. These cuts are devastating for my clients and bad for my
business, and that is why I have taken the time to keep 9000+ people
rallied around this cause. Expect to continue hearing from us.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Lunden LCSW, LADC, CCS
Portland

And here is my reply to a subsequent message I got from Representative
Gary Knight:

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Representative Knight,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me, and for sharing a little
bit about yourself. As I said in my email, I don’t know many of you
personally, but I know that most of you entered politics because you
wanted to make the world a better place. Clearly, this is true for you,
and I appreciate hearing all of the ways you have strived to do that
throughout your life. I, too, am striving to make the world a better
place. We are both doing it in different ways, and we having differing
beliefs about how it should be done.

I absolutely agree that Representative Flood is a true gentleman. He
impressed me with his willingness to spend some time with me and listen
to my perspective. I told my 9000+ about him, and heard back from some
who knew him who confirmed what Susan Lamb of the NASW had told me
before I met him, that he is a good, decent man. And that was certainly
my experience of him.

I'm sorry if my email felt venomous. That was not my intent. I
am angry. And I am scared, too. I am scared for all of the disabled and
low-income Mainers who stand to lose their healthcare, and I'm scared
for Maine. And I wrote all of these words before reading the budget your
party has issued, and I am even more scared now. These cuts are
devastating. Just devastating. Do you see that?

When the Governor took office he said he would not do anything to hurt
the elderly or disabled. But cutting the Drugs for the Elderly Program
mean that many elderly will have to choose between food and medication.
How is that not hurting the elderly? And in the long run, that will
actually cost more, because without their meds, they will get sicker and
spend more time in ERs and hospitals.

Have you ever been low income, Representative Knight? Have you ever
been without health insurance and unable to pay for a doctor or for
medications? Or do you have a parent or grandparent who has lived that
experience? If not, have you heard from constituents who can tell you
what that's like? Did you know that 45,000 American a year die simply
because they are uninsured? Do you think that is okay? Are you certain
you want to be one of those wielding the ax? I'm thinking here about all
the cuts to Medicare and drug assistance, and of the 14,500 low-income
working parents who stand to lose their Medicare, and the 7000 young
adults.

And then there are the cuts to Head Start. That program was started
because research showed that when children from low income families got
a "head start," they did better in school and therefore were less likely
to turn to crime and drugs than their peers. The Child Care Subsidy
Program helps low-income parents afford the child care they need in
order to work. I'm pretty sure Republicans want people to work, right?
But how can they, if they are making minimum wage and can't afford child
care? The Maine Families Home Visiting Program helps protect children's
health and safety by addressing the effects of family substance abuse
and domestic violence.

And Rep. Knight, I hear you that you feel that the morality of this
country has been slipping. But not allowing low-income people access to
birth control will not stop them from having sex. It will only stop them
from using birth control. You know that, right? And then what happens?
They either get an abortion, which I believe you as a Christian
Republican would not want for them to do. Or they keep an unwanted child
that they cannot afford. That's another option. But I know, due to your
and your party's stance on the above issues, you clearly do not actually
want for the State of Maine to support that child to make sure it is
safe and secure and gets a "head start" on life, and is protected from
the substance abuse and violence that often accompany the stress of
living life on the edge of economic calamity. You can't legislate
morality, I'm afraid. You can only model it.

You say that we should help those unable to help themselves, but that
not everyone needs a handout. Do you think the elderly and disabled
might need a little extra help? And what about the single mother who is
working for minimum wage in a job that doesn't offer healthcare? I'm
sure you probably have some of those in your church, don't you? Can you
look those people in the eye and tell them you are taking away their
drug assistance or their health insurance or their childcare?

But there I go ranting again.

I'm sorry you feel I'm attacking the Republican party. I have
explicitly tried not to do that in my dispatches to my 9000+, but in
this case it is not possible not to do so. The Republicans on the
Appropriations Committee cut the Democrats out of the process of
negotiating this budget after getting a secret memo from the Governor.
And from everything I've heard, the Republicans are looking to push this
through without negotiating with the Democrats, despite a year and a
half of bipartisan budget negotiation. You say we need to find common
ground and work with compromise, but that is not what appears to be
happening right now.

You're right that I'm not an expert in tax code. But I do know that $14
million in DHHS money was "found" after the last budget was passed, and
that Maine Revenue Services has come up with an additional $50+ million
in revenue forecasting increases. I do not believe these cuts need to be
this drastic. Nor do many other voters. I suppose it is a good thing
these cuts will take place in August--so that, come voting time, people
can know, by their very lives, what the Republican party has done.

Representative Knight, I so appreciate hearing from you, and I
appreciate reading your thoughtful comments. And I'll confess here what
I believe is one of the most problematic aspects of US government today:
It is that politics has gotten too polarized and too dogmatic. If we are
going to make this country and this state move forward in a positive
direction, we have to find ways to communicate. I believe that is why
Senator Snowe is leaving politics. It makes me sad that it has gotten
this bad.

I'm so glad to see that you vote your conscience--policy, and not party.

I very much appreciate your thoughtful response, Representative Knight.
I do hope you will take mine into your heart.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Lunden





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