Budget goals mustn't control health needsI recently...


Budget goals mustn't control health needs

I recently went to Washington to meet with Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Sen. Barbara Mikulski. I wanted to discuss my concerns about the Medicare budget debate.

The staffs for both senators were polite and attentive to my point of view. I am glad to have participated in our democratic system of government.

One thing I noticed was a recurring theme that I found a bit distressing. Legislators have a budget goal to reach, and this goal is the engine driving the decision-making process, regardless of impact.

In other words, they understood that instituting things such as additional co-payments on Medicare recipients might -- in addition to making preventive and cost effective procedures such as laboratory testing too expensive for some people to afford -- also put some health care providers out of business.

They agree this is a problem, but they can count the money saved toward reaching the budget goal.

I agree, balancing the budget is the right thing to do. But when I left Washington I couldn't get one thought out of my head.

Decisions affecting our entire nation's health are being made from a standpoint of bottom-line cost without considering quality or access to vital health care services.

After meeting with the senators, I am hoping that our elected representatives will have what it takes to step off the budget bullet train and consider the long-term consequences of short-term, budget-driven decisions.

teven A. Lobel


City's fate

Baltimore City should be the heart of one of the great metropolitan areas of this country. Our proximity to the nation's capital, our harbor and the diversity of our population have all of the requirements for a thriving metropolis.

Instead, we have a decaying city; its tax base eroding; the confidence of its business community destroyed and an under-privileged majority deprived of a decent education and a sense of security.

The lack of leadership by the mayor of Baltimore and his supposed advisers is astounding.

Those of us who loved the city are dismayed by this lack of leadership, the politically inspired racial polarization and the overt hostility to the business community.

The destructiveness of the current leadership of this community has resulted in the mass exodus of men and women of all races who desire a prosperous and safe environment for their children and their businesses.

Black or white, gentile or Jewish, men and women of all persuasions see a self-serving, greedy group of politicians who seem unable, despite their education and background, to grasp and fulfill the needs of the people they were elected to serve.

It is obvious that the special interests of the unelected advisers have come to the forefront: the racism of Larry Gibson and the greed of Ron Shapiro.

It is time for the citizens of Baltimore to find a new leader, unencumbered by obligations of past deeds to bring back the heart of the city, to make Baltimore the proud city which it once was.

Its harbor, once a center of international trade, its affluent merchants and its diverse ethnic community, hard-working and successful individuals creating a community known throughout the country for polished white steps, its panama hats, its garment industry, all of these are in the past.

The future lies in biotechnology, computer services and broad-based industry supported by a working community with good schools, safe neighborhoods and low taxes.

Stephen Weinstein


Cruel violence

I live in Baltimore City. I am seven years old. My cat got shot by a BB gun. He got hit so badly, he died.

It makes me really sad. I want people to know it's not a joke.

It is against the law for people to shoot animals with BB guns or shotguns. He died on June 7.

Owen D. C. Baron


Poe House

I recently visited Baltimore and enjoyed seeing the Inner Harbor, the Baltimore Museum of Art and other sites. However, I was shocked by the poor condition of the area surrounding the Edgar Allen Poe House. This author was one of this country's finest writers. He is revered in France but forgotten at home.

I understand from the Poe House curator that the house recently has undergone renovations. Nevertheless, we were totally unable to view the exterior of the house because we were threatened by nearby residents, some of whom shook baseball bats at us.

This was an unforgettable disappointment, and one that should shame your city.

nTC I hope one day to return to Poe's house and actually see it. That is, if the city of Baltimore chooses to preserve it as it should. It would be a criminal waste to allow such a landmark to decay.

Marion Blackburn

Greenville, N.C.

What will happen to the tenth graders?

I write to bring to your attention, and request that some publicity be given to the decision made by the superintendent of the Baltimore City Public Schools to discontinue the licensed practical nursing (LPN) program at the Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

Approximately two weeks before the end of the spring semester, one faculty member of the school made it known to the school that she saw an article in the newspaper that the program would be discontinued.

The students were told that for financial reasons and poor exam-passing results, the decision had to be made.

Whatever the reasons are for the decision, it appears as though the school was not involved in the decision-making process, that the school was not given the option to clean up its act or else.

In other words, they were not given a period in which the program would be phased out, thereby giving the sophomores who would become juniors in September a chance to complete the LPN program at Mervo.

The principal's letter dated June 9, and received by me on June 11 or 12, a few days before the end of the semester (June 15), stated in part:

"Effective September 1, 1995 the Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School's licensed practical nursing program will be transferred to Edmondson-Westside High School.

"All instructional activities will be housed at Edmondson-Westside High School. All staff and budgets associated with this program will be transferred to Edmondson-Westside.

"Current 11th grade (12th grade for 1995-1996) LPN students are eligible to continue in the program and, in electing to continue, will transfer to Edmondson-Westside.

"The 1995-1996 school year will be used to develop a new curriculum and other program enhancements. In light of this, the superintendent has informed the Board of Nursing that new student admissions will be halted during 1995-1996.

"The current tenth grade (11th grade for 1995-1996) students enrolled in Mergenthaler's pre-practical nursing program will not be eligible to transfer to Edmondson-Westside and/or continue in the program.

"These students will be given the option of transferring into Edmondson-Westside health occupations programs, transferring to their zone school, or selecting another program . . ."

My concern is, why weren't the present tenth graders given preference to complete the program? Must we assume that the current 10th graders (those not eligible) are being penalized for one reason or another?

How are our young people supposed to interpret the administration's decision regarding their future and fate?

I would assume that the other trades, including the health occupations programs and zone schools, would already have their quota of students.

What then, is going to happen to the students not eligible? Will they not be eligible for any place in the Baltimore City school system? . . .

This is a very crucial time in their lives, and I can tell you that the news came at such a bad time, just before their finals for the spring semester, and I know that this had an effect on their performance on those examinations.

As a concerned taxpayer, citizen and parent of one of the affected students, I ask for your help in bringing this matter to the attention of the citizens of the city, as my attempts to contact someone in the system to explain what is happening have proven futile.

. J. Pottinger


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