Stadiums mean more to us than schoolsLet...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Stadiums mean more to us than schools

Let me see if I have this straight. The state of Maryland needs to spend money on two football stadiums for two football teams to help ensure its economic future. I suppose investment in the children and schools of Maryland, including those in Baltimore, is not as important to the state's future as two football stadiums or mismanagement and inadequate funding in education would have been addressed long ago.

I'm so glad I moved from Texas back to Maryland, where people have their priorities in order.

Jeanne M. Mulligan

Reisterstown

Power has clouded coalition's judgment

When those you have elected address issues on the basis of color and you are not of that color, you are not being represented. When City Council members meet behind closed doors to discuss problems they feel relevant to only one segment of this city's population, the other segments of that population are being denied access to solutions to problems experienced by all.

This coalition within the City Council is making a mockery of all that was accomplished by the Civil Rights Act and the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. They do his memory an injustice when they decide that they will now become the "racists' he long fought. They have decided to represent by the color of your skin.

This city has in its past had many blemishes regarding civil rights violations. Over these many years, we have progressed to where we have chosen a path that we can all be proud of. This coalition has let power cloud its members' good judgment.

Lois Munchel

Baltimore

Blame Clinton for budget stalemate

During the 1992 presidential campaign, the rallying chorus for the Democratic Party was, "It's the economy, stupid." Bill Clinton used the line to convince the American people that the economy was bad, therefore George Bush was bad and therefore Mr. Clinton should be elected president. It worked.

With the retreat by the Republican Party from its balanced-budget goal because of President Clinton's intransigence on the matter, Mr. Clinton has handed the Republicans their campaign theme for 1996: "It's the deficit, stupid."

If we are to believe the polls, an overwhelming majority of the American people want a balanced budget. Since that was part of their contract with America, it is obvious that the Republicans wanted a balanced budget. Further, since there was a stalemate over the budget, it is also obvious that the president and the Democratic Party do not want a balanced budget.

William McConkey Kerr

Baltimore

Reader criticizes high-speed chases

During the blizzard of 96, I was among the hundreds of stranded people at BWI Airport. While there I met and talked with Adrienne Walker-Pittman. Although most of the patrons at BWI were a hit hostile, Ms. Pittman remained professional, courteous and informative.

I am saddened and hurt to learn of the senseless tragedy that has befallen her. I do not ordinarily bash the police. They already get enough of that from the media. I actually concur with their decisions almost all of the time but they are on their own with this one.

Why engage in a car chase? The Baltimore County police department does not permit nor train for high-speed car pursuits. And the reason for this is because of exactly what happened to Ms. Pittman, who lost her leg.

Miriam Kirkner

Cockeysville

Electric car windows pose safety risk

Regarding the close call of the woman whose car became stuck in rising flood waters, I would like to point out the folly of car manufacturers who, in making cars ever more technologically "advanced," are really putting occupants at risk. Electrically powered windows, sun roofs and door locks do not operate in a case of power failure. Air bags can disfigure and maim, etc.

Not long ago a man died in the Cockeysville underpass when his car got stuck in high water because his doors and windows were electrically operated. Standby mechanical devices should be mandatory in all cars with electrically powered doors, sun roofs and windows.

Frederik G. Van Der Wens

Cockeysville

HMOs experimenting with patient care

In his Jan. 23 article, "Congratulations, Mom! Here's the door," Dr. Robert N. Sheff, president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland HMOs, was absolutely correct in declaring that we have to protect our "limited resources."

However, he needs to be reminded that our most precious resource is our children. It has been the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure the best and most appropriate health and illness care for our children, while ever mindful of the limited financial resources available. In this context, Dr. Sheff has made important factual as well as philosophical misstatements.

First and foremost, the American Academy of Pediatrics has never had a policy supporting the hospital discharge of mothers and newborns after less than 48 hours. In the deliberations surrounding the adoption of the Mothers and Infants Health Security Act, it was our position that professional medical supervision is critical to the mother and newborn in the first 48 to 72 hours following a normal birth. The ideal place for this supervision is a hospital.

While Dr. Sheff recognizes that "physicians cannot be a part of any process that lessens the quality of patient care," he neglected the data that clearly demonstrates that early discharge prevented many Maryland infants from being adequately tested for life-threatening metabolic diseases. Data from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that following the institution of early discharge, testing was no longer being adequately done on almost a third of all infants born in this state.

This means that each year almost 26,000 infants are being placed at unnecessary risk of very serious disease, disability or death because of an uncontrolled experiment with length of hospital stay.

Neither Blue Cross or other health insurers will pay for experimental medical procedures. Yet, when the experiment means the policy holder will get reduced services, there seems to be little hesitation to go ahead.

The industry has a valid concern about costs and reduction in hospitalization impacts directly on that issue. However, the industry also has an ethical obligation to the community to prove benefit changes are not causing a significant decline in the quality of health care. They simply did not do it in this instance.

Rather than continue the debate over length of hospital stay, we need to focus on developing and implementing only proven low-cost, high-quality changes in health care delivery. Before the insurance companies will pay for a procedure they require rigorous documentation that it is effective. The public is entitled to similar assurance that a change in medical care dictated by changes in insurance coverage is safe and effective.

Melvin S. Stern, M.D.

Highland

The writer is chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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