Letters to the editor Feb. 24

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Transportation needs

Stan Watkins is right — LaSalle from K-mart to Reserve needs to be redone. But that’s not enough. Reserve needs to be four lanes — that is a bottleneck every day. Instead of spending more millions redoing the southern U.S. 93 Bypass, how about doing what’s really needed.

—Mirna Teskey, Columbia Falls

No comparison

After reading Kathy Frame’s letter in the Feb. 11 edition of the Inter Lake, I felt I needed to respond.

Kathy is outraged that society is more concerned with animal welfare than with the “legalization of murdering babies.” She continues to say she is “an animal person” and believes her 32-year-old pack horse has earned the right to live at her home until he dies. (Apparently, he has made himself useful to her during his years, so he gets to retire at her home now). Is this what “being an animal person” means to her?

I am troubled by Kathy’s comparison of two drastically different problems with our society. Time and time again, when abortion rights are debated, pro-life advocates throw in the comparison of society being more interested in protecting animals over that of infant humans. It’s a ridiculous comparison, and one that needs to stop.

Let me tell you that I am “an animal person” in the truest sense of the phrase. I have worked with animal rescue organizations over the years and support many still. I am for the protection of anything that is helpless to help themselves, anything that cannot speak for themselves, anything that cannot stand up for themselves. A great number of my friends and family are also animal advocates, fighting for those who are helpless to society’s travesties against them.

Now this is the best part ... we are also pro life! Newsflash to Ms. Frame, and everyone else who feels like this is a one or the other choice, you can support animals AND children! Many pro-animal folks I have the pleasure of knowing also believe in protecting unborn babies. Like animals, babies have no voice of their own. They cannot stand up for themselves. They are at the mercy of adults who will indiscriminately do what they want with them.

So PLEASE, stop comparing apples to oranges. Stop throwing this argument in to try to augment your stance on abortion. It just comes across as ignorance. The bottom line is, this is no comparison, and you can absolutely support one while still believing in the other.

—Angie McCrorie, Kalispell

Access to treatment

An estimated 64,000 Montanans have a substance-abuse disorder and 90 percent of them are not receiving treatment. The opioid crisis is front and center in today’s media coverage and has been declared a public-health crisis with catastrophic consequences. Last year almost 50,000 people died of opioid overdoses in the U.S.

Unfortunately, it is easier to die of an opioid overdose than it is to access effective treatment in many areas of Montana. Not all insurance plans cover all available addiction treatment medications. In addition, some plans cap the number of dosages and medication refills a patient receives. Insurance companies routinely do not pay for treatment by licensed counselors unless they have a Master’s Degree, making accessing effective counseling difficult. Many of the treatment facilities in Montana do not even offer standard medications such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. These limitations can have disastrous consequences for patients when they are unable to access effective treatment for their addiction and relapse to illicit drug use.

Senate Bill 280 will have its first hearing in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee on Monday, Feb. 25. This bill seeks to establish requirements for insurers and Medicaid to cover medication-assisted treatment in the state of Montana. It provides for insurance coverage without onerous pre-authorization requirements, allows payment of counseling services by Licensed Addiction Counselors, and requires all treatment facilities that treat opioid addiction to use the most effective medications that are considered the current standard of care.

By supporting SB 280, you are sending a strong message to insurers and lawmakers that it is imperative to support not only increasing access to treatment for those who struggle with substance use disorder, but providing the resources necessary to remove barriers to high-quality evidence-based care in the state of Montana.

—Robert Sherrick, Kalispell

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