Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Medical ResearchWhy is it that every critical...


Medical Research

Why is it that every critical outcry by animal rights groups against biomedical researchers draws immediate media, public and political attention, while the life-saving work being conducted by those dedicated individuals is relegated to a passing paragraph or two? ("Military seeking to lessen its use of animals in labs," May 28.)

Military physicians and scientists provide invaluable approaches to saving lives not only on the battlefield but in the civilian world as well. The great advances in emergency trauma and burn care throughout our communities are prime examples. Yet, unfounded allegations by animal rights groups distract those engaged in this important work and cast a pall of political intimidation to the point that research administrators, in this case members of the military, are forced to scramble to appease their animal rights critics.

The involvement of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in the discussion of military biomedical research should be clear warning to everyone involved. PCRM is dedicated to ending all animal-related biomedical research regardless of its life-saving implications. PCRM is a public and media relations front organization established and financed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Aniamls (PETA). PCRM's purpose is to create the illusion that the animal rights movements has credible support within the mainstream biomedical community. It doesn't.

Rather than lend credibility to such extremist thought by allowing its advocates a central role in formulating public policy, let's leave the entire animal rights movements where it belongs: in the museum of cult oddities.

Susan Paris

Arlington, Va.

The writer is president of the Americans for Medical Progress Educational Foundation.

Children's Interest

I feel that it is important to respond to Elaine Fromm's June 2 letter, "Bill Veto Hurts Children's Interests."

Ms. Fromm said that House Bill 937, which was vetoed by the governor, would have "enabled the Child Support Enforcement Administration to charge three fees which are allowed under federal law; the initial application, the tax refund intercept program and the tax refund offset program fees." All of these allowances are already in state law. The prohibition against deducting fees from child support payments is also in current law.

What House Bill 937 would have changed is to include a restriction that would limit the initial application fee to $25 (the current fee is $20). It would also have precluded any other fees for services, except for the interception of federal and state tax refund money that is owed for child support.

The Child Support Enforcement Administration was created to assist in the protection of the best interests of a child. It is my belief that Maryland's children will benefit from a strong child support program. I would not support any action that would lessen the quality of life of the children we serve. It is, however, realistic to expect that because the economic climate is not static and the demand for child support services is growing, resources may not always be available to maintain a solid program. Increasing the fee based on one's ability to pay would be a remedial option.

Child support services have expanded over the years. One very successful initiative is the wage withholding program. This service is available regardless of income. As our services continue to expand, many of which are federally-mandated, the costs to run the child support program increase as well.

House Bill 937 would have severely limited the options available to the Child Support Enforcement Administration.

Kenneth H. Rumsey


The writer is acting executive director, Child Support Enforcement Administration.

Aloof A.G.

This is an election year and Attorney General Joseph Currahas issued several press reports praising the work of the A.G.'s Consumer Protection Division. There have been reports on the attorney general taking a stand against children over-dosing on sugar-coated iron supplement tablets that look like candy and mouthwash bottles that don't have child-proof caps.

But when I, an ordinary taxpayer, called the Consumer Protection Division to seek help and complain about being double-billed by an air conditioning company for work at my business that was not done correctly, they told me that they couldn't help me because I ran a commercial establishment.

In addition they told me to call my congressman! Call my congressman? I'm told that there are over 300 lawyers in the attorney general's office, and they tell me to call my congressman?

I am a businesswoman, a sole proprietor, who works 10 hours or more a day running a small bar/restaurant in downtown Baltimore. Is this the kind of service I deserve for my taxes?

Jeannine Golpira


Holiday Thoughts

On July 4 we will observe the 218th anniversary of the birth oour nation. It began as a noble experiment, the result of which is still in doubt.

Over the years, the republic has stumbled and fumbled through wars, depressions and natural disasters. At times "the lamp of Liberty" has been well nigh extinguished, but it continues to burn, being nourished with the "blood, sweat and tears" of those who have gone before us.

As we enjoy the Fourth of July sales and the cookouts and the fireworks, take a moment to ponder how much of our freedoms have been built upon the labors of those who have gone before us and how we are duty-bound to exert ourselves to give as much as we have received.

' Happy birthday, U.S.A.!

J. Bernard Hihn


Where is Truth in Health Care Packaging?

Congress has exempted itself from another national standardthe Truth.

The federal government requires businesses to provide consumers with the down side of their products. A food product must be labeled with the truth about the percentage of fat and sodium it will take out of the daily recommended requirements.

Lending institutions must provide the "Truth in Lending" statement about how adjusted annual percentage rates differs from the booking rate. And they are required to give a "Good Faith Estimate" of what the total costs of a loan will be to the consumer.

Where is our "Truth in Providing" universal health care? What is the "Good Faith Estimate"?

You have to sift through political rhetoric to get the smallest grasp of any "Truth in Providing." The supporters of President Clinton's bill say it will take away the worry of being uninsured, but at what costs and to whom?

Opponents point out that the businesses who employ those who are most vulnerable to being uninsured will be overburdened by the mandates. Results can be that the most vulnerable will also ** be at risk of losing other compensation (pay raises) or even their jobs.

Is it true that those of us who are satisfied with our coverage and care will be taxed on our premiums in order to cover those who can't pay?

This fact will force us to look for a cheaper health care plan -- the national alliances.

Is this the intention of the federal government? To increase the number of people who will be dependent on a federal bureaucracy, that is destined either to become an extreme burden to taxpayers and the deficit or to ration the services provided?

We agree that everyone must be covered, but is having national alliances the best way for America? Will we get the best value for our money? Shouldn't we be committed to keeping people independent from federal programs?

How will independent doctors and insurance companies be affected? Doesn't the government receive revenue from their profits? What happens to their employees? Glib answers about finding another job won't put food on their tables or pay for their mandated health premiums. Are we looking at the possibility of also paying more unemployment because of the universal health care plan?

What impact will the national health board have on the nation? Will it dictate what can and can't be done by all the doctors in the country? Will medical miracles cease to exist because certain procedures aren't cost effective? Will our privacy and other freedoms be compromised? Does everyone understand global budgeting?

This board will have more impact on our lives than the Supreme Court. Who will be able to control it? Is there any recourse when you aren't satisfied with the board's limits? There is when you don't agree with a private insurance company or an independent doctor.

Are the alternatives to the mandated plan viable? Do they deserve to be dismissed as small interests' rhetoric? No, they should be considered and presented: the good parts and the bad. Just as the Clinton plan should be presented. Nothing that affects every citizen of this nation should be marketed like a box of sugary cereal. Nor should it be decided behind closed doors.

Before we are asked to support any plan, please give us the opportunity to make educated decisions. We have the right to know the bottom line before a health care plan becomes law.

This law is going to affect our families more than anyone in Congress or any president; they will never be in line behind you

or me, waiting for health services.

Judy Niehaus

Forest Hill

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