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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cutting the care for immigrants will cost us all

I agree with Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Mayor Martin O'Malley that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s decision to take away health care benefits from thousands of Maryland children is "unconscionable" and "awful policy" and will have tragic consequences for many Maryland families ("Ehrlich cuts health care for children of immigrants," June 22).

This decision, like Mr. Ehrlich's decision to veto legislation requiring large companies to do their fair share in providing health care for their employees, is also bad economically for all of us.

When people don't have health care coverage, they often don't get the preventive care and the relatively inexpensive early treatments that help keep us healthy.

When they then become very sick, they have to go to hospitals, which must treat them even if they can't pay for the care. And, of course, all of us pay for these expensive hospital treatments for the uninsured through higher insurance premiums.

That is why the vast majority of Maryland voters strongly support requiring large employers to do their fair share and providing full health care coverage for lower-income children.

I hope that in January the General Assembly will listen to the people and do the right thing by reversing both of these bad decisions by the governor.

Vincent DeMarco

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

Illness pays no heed to one's nationality

It was with dismay that I read of the governor's plan to cut health care benefits to poor immigrant children and families ("Ehrlich cuts health care for children of immigrants," June 22).

This action is deeply shortsighted and implicitly racist.

The immigrant families and their children who will be hurt by this have come here legally, abided by our immigration laws, worked in our state and paid taxes according to our laws.

They apparently do so assuming that they are supporting a compassionate society that works for the benefit of all its residents.

But apparently that support and compassion is limited by a green card.

If the governor is going to cut the health care benefits to children of immigrant families, he should go all the way and ban them from our public school system - because any untreated illness they acquire they will bring into our schools and pass on to other children and families.

Illness, you see, does not respect nationality.

And while Mr. Ehrlich's family and his staff's children sleep well under the state health plan, they should realize that they will be exposed to children whose health care he has chosen to cut.

Of course, without benefits, immigrant families will put off seeking medical care until very late in an illness. And then they will make use of emergency facilities across the state.

And who will pay the cost for that?

Raymond L. Crowel

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is a vice president of the National Mental Health Association.

Handouts undermine incentive to strive

Let me see if I have this right: If I become hooked on crack and lose my house, Baltimore Homeless Services Inc. may give me a place to live free of charge and $1,200 to set up house ("A reverse approach to homelessness," June 20).

And it won't even make me go to drug treatment?

Hey, where can I sign up?

I'm tired of working to be a productive member of society.

Karl Schult

Lutherville

Rebuild this nation before aiding others

As a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran who spent a year under enemy fire, I read with interest The Sun's editorial "Vietnam redux" (June 22) and the article "Bush says he'll visit Vietnam in '06" (June 22).

And while I concur with the editorial, the news article mentioned economic assistance for Communist Vietnam - i.e. U.S. money.

Until and unless we have a Marshall Plan for the United States to rebuild this country, I shall continue to oppose spending any more money on other nations - especially former enemies, defeated or not.

We rebuilt post-Nazi Germany, post-fascist Italy and post-Imperial Japan, and now it's time to rebuild ourselves.

Charity begins at home.

Blaine Taylor

Towson

Racing needs slots to compete for fans

To put slots in perspective for team sports fans, suppose that your favorite team in baseball or football was up against this problem: Stadiums in surrounding states had slot machines, and the proceeds from slots enabled the owners to pay their players much more money than your state's teams could pay, even if their fan base was equal.

The better players would soon migrate to those states for more money, and your team's fan base would dwindle.

Thoroughbred racing has no such thing as a salary cap, and owners and trainers make their living off the purses paid to the winners. If the purses are higher in surrounding states, then the better horses are going to migrate to those states.

And the fans in Maryland are left with mediocre horses, except for the few high-stakes races such as the Preakness.

Would slots even be controversial if our football or baseball teams needed slots to compete with the teams in other states?

Howard Gelzhiser

Catonsville

Fiddling over flags as real issues burn?

With an overextended military fighting an amorphous war with no end, with record federal budget deficits continuing to increase, with oil prices at all-time highs and global demand for petroleum rising as supply levels off, it must have been hard for the House to recognize that the biggest issue of our time is actually all those pesky flag burners ("House OKs measure on flag desecration," June 23).

Congratulations to our Congress not only for recognizing the problem, but for having the courage to tackle it head-on.

Now if only Congress had as much respect for our Constitution as it does for the symbol of the freedoms it is gradually eroding.

David Schwartz

Baltimore

Set a timetable to pull out of Iraq

It's been more than two years since the official end of major combat operations in Iraq. That is sufficient time for the United States to have trained and equipped an Iraqi police force that is capable of maintaining some semblance of security ("Bush says progress being made in Iraq," June 21).

It's high time for U.S. troop reductions in Iraq and a timetable for withdrawal.

David Bavaria

Granite

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