Janice Likens' letter (" Rep. Harris want to privatize Medicare," May 16) reports that Congressman Andy Harris " explained that the new and improved Medicare would function like the Part D Prescription Drug program." This surely raises questions about his knowledge of that program.

Part D is the fast growing element of costs of Medicare and it is the only program that was barred by the GOP administration and majorities in Congress from negotiating any prices for prescription drugs. I recently was able to compare a prescription inhaler that Part D would have paid $291 for (I had a free coupon), but my Federal Employee Health Benefit Program carrier paid $175, and I paid $70 for three of them. I would guess that the Veterans Administration and the other medical operations of the federal government would have costs no higher than the FEHB program since they all have negotiation authority.

The "fraud waste and abuse" in Part D is in the statute itself. Extending that "pay whatever they charge" give away to the entire Medicare system would be a financial disaster.

Sadly, the GOP has abandoned the central principle of its first leader (Abraham Lincoln) who used the phrase "government by the people, for the people" and instead adopted wholly its worst principle, stated by Calvin Coolidge: "The business of the American people is business."

Ronald P. Bowers, Timonium,