Forum, Aug. 11: Medication Prices Can Sicken You

Thursday, August 10, 2017
Medication Prices Can Sicken You

Regarding the Aug. 8 column, “Cost of Medications Can Make You Gasp,” I am forced to add my two cents, as that might be all we have left. Due to my progressing symptoms of multiple sclerosis, I have been prescribed a medication that will not cure me but will keep my condition from progressing, at the cost of $1,293 a month. The insurance company refused to pay since I had not tried several cheaper meds first.

My neurologist gave me a number to call and after jumping through hoops for two weeks and promising my first-born child, I now get the meds free and delivered to my door. Unfortunately, I proceeded to have every side effect listed in the drug flyer.

Now we will try the newest drug, claimed to be the “cure.” This requires that I contact the insurance company to request coverage for this incredible drug. The estimated cost for a once-per-month infusion is approximately $10,000.

How can one possibly justify these prices? What does the person without insurance do? Gasp!

Arthur J. Pistey


Oppose the Pipeline Here

I applaud the local opposition to Liberty Utilities’ brazen attempt to gain a foothold for natural gas in the Upper Valley (“Don’t Buy This Upper Valley Pipeline, Aug. 6”).

Communities across New England — some motivated by their visceral opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) project or Spectra’s pipelines — are taking steps to be less reliant on fossil fuels. In Massachusetts, where I live, more than half of all municipalities have earned Green Community designation under a state law designed to incentivize clean energy and conservation. Many are now working toward 100 percent renewable goals. Community-wide bulk purchasing programs for solar panels and efficient heat pumps are helping us collectively make the leap forward, thanks to a few dedicated individuals in each community who see these initiatives through.

Simultaneously, utilities across New England are pushing for more pipelines. If local expansions continue, we can expect interstate pipeline companies like Kinder Morgan to return, with bigger pipelines to address a newly created “need,” feeding markets here and overseas.

Liberty Utilities must pay lip service to ratepayer concerns, as a so-called public utility seeking the blessing of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission for a new franchise. However, Liberty has an incentive to create more capacity than ratepayers need: Along with its corporate parent, Liberty stands to reap a guaranteed profit from ratepayers if expansions are approved. Liberty’s Canadian parent invested directly in the NED project, joining a troubling trend in which utilities’ corporate parents invest as partners in interstate pipeline projects, while the subsidiary utilities sign up as pipeline customers. Ratepayers fund these expansions through their utility bills, with a profit for the companies built into rates as a return on corporate investment.

The question at the PUC now is whether Liberty can sign up enough customers to justify a Lebanon/Hanover expansion. Thus, the fate of this project — and, perhaps, future major pipelines in the region — hinges on whether enough local residents, businesses and municipal officials say, “No, we have an energy vision and natural gas isn’t a part of it.”

Kathryn Eiseman President, Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast

Cummington, Mass.

Why Democracy Is Waning

In his Forum letter published on July 11, Bob Scobie presented an on-target critique of our nation’s political leaders and laid out cogent and concise demands for those leaders to embrace to “create a gracious environment by greeting the world openly and so end up maximizing their influence and effectiveness” which he quoted from New York Times columnist David Brooks. However; before we can proceed with Mr. Scobie’s agenda, we must recognize and address the egregious consequences of deep-pocked lobbyists and PACs and widespread gerrymandering (at which the GOP excels and to which the Democrats aspire).

Elected officials will respond to our desire for the “gracious environment” only when the election process and function is returned to American voters. At present, voters have very little control over legislative direction or conduct because of big money and voting district manipulation.

Inasmuch as there is no limit on how much may be spent on behalf of a candidate’s campaign and no limit on how much an individual or PAC can contribute to a campaign, it should come as no surprise that so many of our Congress members are beholden to and intimidated by narrowly defined special interests.

Moreover, even if voting districts have been masterfully defined to ensure one party’s dominance (as so many have), an incumbent who dares to support or vote for propositions other than those specified by party leaders will find themselves without party support at the next election. Those party leaders are, of course, themselves the benefitted puppets of large campaign contributions.

So say what you will to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, until the Citizens United decision is reversed, individual and aggregate campaign contribution limits are established and voting districts are determined on uniform and impartial criteria, our state and federal legislatures will never be free to aspire to “create gracious environments” and our democratic institutions will continue to atrophy and indeed may fail.

W.A. Krein


School Building Worth Preserving

On March 22, over 80 Bridgewater residents came together at a community gathering at the Bridgewater Grange Hall to express their feelings about the Bridgewater Village School and the notion of demolishing it, despite its good condition, historic significance and importance to our community. Afterward, a group of concerned citizens attended several Selectboard meetings to restate the wisdom of repurposing and preserving it as a significant landmark. We have recently met with two organizations that help towns with community and economic development and we held two worthwhile brainstorming sessions. Our central goal is to preserve this important building and ensure its continued use.

Our next step will be to meet with the Selectboard again at its Aug. 22 meeting at 6 p.m. to present some options and suggestions, in response to the needs of our community and the best interests of Bridgewater taxpayers.

This school holds a wonderful, historic place in our town’s history and it has the potential to keep doing that. It has fostered friendships and bonds for many generations and has been a place of gathering for over 100 years. It is our hope that the Village School will remain a vibrant part of our town for another hundred years, or more! It deserves careful consideration and planning before it’s unfairly cast aside.

This is an opportunity to work together to build upon the strong foundation this facility has given us. Please help us by making your wishes known and insisting on careful analysis of the pros and cons.

Brian Bontrager

Collen Doyle

Joni Kennedy


For a Cleaner Mascoma Lake

On Saturday, Aug. 19, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Mascoma Lake Association and its volunteers will gather at four locations on the lake at targeted cleanup areas: Mascoma River from the town bridge to the Lakeside Park, the two boat launches (Enfield and Lebanon), and Beaver Point sandbar, accessible by the rail trail off Bridge Street. Boats and trucks are welcome but not necessary; plan to be in the water (boots, swimsuit, even mask and snorkel). We will clean the shore and shallow waters; Mascoma Lake Association leaders will provide bags.

If you can put in a couple of hours to collect trash and recyclables from our lake, please contact Bud Lynch to volunteer: bud.lynch72@gmail.com or 603- 632-4046.  The rain date is Aug. 20.

Allison Flint