Airport security up everywhere but BWIAs an...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Airport security up everywhere but BWI

As an amputee and rather frequent traveler, during the past several decades I have endured the inevitable bother when my prosthesis triggers the airport security alarm.

To the quiet amusement of family and friends, I am always invited to empty my pockets, then scanned and patted down. I accept the whole process as necessary and unavoidable.

During a recent vacation involving a number of airports in and outside the U.S. I was dismayed to discover that the "heightened airport security" so highly advertised was completely absent in Baltimore, in contrast to the meticulous security forces I have encountered at foreign airports.

When I informed the security guard, after setting off the usual alarm, that I had a prosthesis, he said "Huh?" indicating his ignorance.

After being informed what it was, he scanned me, merely verifying that indeed I was "hot," then let me go. At no time did anyone lay hands on me; I could have had any number of weapons strapped to my leg.

If BWI wants to employ minimum wage people for their security force, then at least they should receive proper training.

As it stands now, Baltimore would be an excellent gateway to all sorts of criminal elements.

Robert O. Kan

Ruxton

Improvement called for life on Earth

There continues to be much attention given to the possibility of primitive microbial life on Mars and to the existence of water on the moon Europa.

The possibility of "life" elsewhere should not outweigh the focus on the fact of life here on Earth where there is a need for improvement.

Excitement about "life" in the universe can only be justified when millions are no longer going hungry, are no longer in need of medical care or housing and when millions of human life forms are no longer destroyed by the hands of abortionists.

This is a hard truth. But there is little excitement when crime is rampant, corruption abounds, legal systems are questionable and millions of dollars are spent to promote political egos while corporations downsize.

For those welfare families struggling to survive and for those losing their jobs, there is no benefit in the discovery of water on a moon or in the contents of a rock from Mars.

There is, however, one benefit to such discoveries: If nothing is done to improve the way of life on this planet, we may be looking at the possibility of becoming primitive microbial life forms here.

Vincent C. Pilgrim

Baltimore

Despite attacks, HMOs are working

This is written in response to Dr. Neil Cohen's Aug. 15 letter about the health maintenance organization industry, "HMOs shouldn't be profit-driven."

The continued delivery of quality health care at affordable prices demands a profit-driven market to ensure viability during periods of loss. I wonder how doctors would respond to a request to operate on a not-for-profit basis? Perhaps Dr. Cohen forgets that the fee-for-service programs generate profits for profit-driven providers at costs far greater to the patients.

Dr. Cohen is correct in stating that Mid Atlantic Medical Services Inc. is keeping a check on specialist referrals. One of the &L; cornerstones of HMOs is active communication between the primary care physician and the specialist. This coordination of care assures that members will receive the highest quality of care at an affordable price. After the first referral, the specialist will develop a treatment plan for the primary care physician to follow. Limiting the initial referral to one specialist visit keeps costs down. Keep in mind that the ongoing care a specialist provides may be basic services and screenings. Having primary care physicians perform care that is within their scope of abilities more cost-effective than having an expensive specialist perform the exact same services. The commitment to quality remains foremost, but HMOs are structured to provide quality care in an efficient manner.

Despite continued negative attacks on the HMO industry, research shows that HMO members report being very satisfied with their health care. With low co-payments and comprehensive care, HMO participants are more likely to have a regular doctor and receive preventive care than patients who are in fee-for-service plans. The system is working.

Martha C. Roach

Annapolis

The writer represents the Maryland Association of Health

Maintenance Organizations.

Medicare came from the Democrats

On Sept. 1, "60 Minutes" interviewed Bob Dole. When questioned about his opposition to Medicare, Mr. Dole said that the Republican Party had introduced "Eldercare," which would have provided health insurance as well as prescription costs for the elderly.

Let us set the record straight on "Eldercare." When Lyndon B. Johnson was elected president in 1964, the Democrats picked up 32 additional seats in the House. In January 1965, Democratic Sen. Clinton Anderson and Rep. Cecil King introduced the Medicare bill into both houses. Medicare was an important part of President Johnson's "Great Society."

It was then the American Medical Association and the Republican leadership introduced "Eldercare," after railing against the idea of health insurance for 50 years. The AMA financed a survey, in which 65 percent of hand-picked respondents preferred a welfare program which would "pay an elderly person's medical bills only if they were in dire need of financial help." The Medicare bill would "pay the medical expenses of everyone over the age of 65 regardless of income."

From February to July 1965, the AMA, insurance companies and hospitals tried to force their opposing viewpoints on the Ways and Means Committee. On July 26, 1965, the Medicare bill came out of conferences and was passed.

President Johnson signed the Medicare bill on July 30, 1965, in the Truman Library, at Independence, Mo. The 81-year-old former president, who had fought for health insurance for many years, was there to witness the signing.

Irving H. Cohen

Baltimore

Bring back the old card catalog

Here's another plea for the good old days. I have just returned from the library after a frustrating experience with the computer. All I wanted was to find a book by a particular author and where it was on the shelf.

First I needed help from the librarian. The author's work was divided into fiction, non-fiction, autobiographical and biographical. Then I had to decided which category I wanted. . . . I was at the computer much longer than it would have taken me to find the author's output and references to him in the old card file, . . . which would have contained the number of pages, publishing date, publisher, a brief summary, sometimes chapter headings and the call number.

If the library has three computers, only three people can use them at any one time. With the card file, a dozen or more people could consult it at the same time.

So much for progress. . . .

D. A. Mednick

Baltimore

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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