Letters to the Editor

The Baltimore Sun

The Sun advocated cutbacks in the Medicare Advantage program without considering the extra financial and health care benefits, including disease management and preventive care, the program offers to the more than 8 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans ("A course correction," editorial, April 27).

Seniors enrolled in Medical Advantage save, on average, $1,032 per year in better benefits and lower out-of-pocket expenses compared with patients in traditional Medicare plans.

These savings are particularly important because half of all program beneficiaries - and 68 percent of minority beneficiaries - earn less than $20,000 per year.

Medicare Advantage also offers all seniors access to free screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer as well as preventive care and disease management programs that are not available through traditional Medicare plans.

Studies have found that preventive care and disease management show promise in mitigating health cost increases and improving outcomes for patients.

Any discussion of the long-term solvency of Medicare should consider the potential financial benefits of the disease management and preventive care Medical Advantage plans offer.

Karen Ignagni


The writer is president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Food fears bring budget cuts home

I'm sure I'm not the only reader who was frightened and angered by Sunday's article regarding the nation's food supply ("Foreign food fears hit close to home," April 29).

Those of us who try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by consuming more fruits and vegetables now have to be very concerned about the safety of these products, as well as the safety of meat and poultry.

We have always relied on the Food and Drug Administration to make certain that these products, grown at home and abroad, are safe for human consumption.

When the FDA is understaffed and undertrained as a result of budget cuts, how can we be sure that the same lethal ingredients that were found in pet foods are not finding their way into the human food supply?

I don't think it takes a genius to figure out why the budgets of important federal and state agencies are being cut.

Could it possibly be tied to the senseless war in Iraq, which is costing us billions of dollars?

We are paying the price for this debacle in more ways than one.

Ellen Apple


Send stronger surge or head home now

As usual in Washington politics, the argument about the war in Iraq has turned into one of polar opposites: Defeat or victory. Fight or run ("Bush, Congress eye next Iraq step," May 2).

But, as has been the case since the beginning of the Iraq war, the real argument ought to be about troop strength.

If we are serious about stabilizing Iraq, the current troop surge should double or triple the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

If, as a country, we are unable to muster the willpower to provide the resources to do the job correctly, we will limp along with just enough troops to maintain the status quo.

In that case, it would be better to leave now and deal with the consequences today than to struggle for two or three more years to come to the same conclusion.

Paul Nelson


Protests a chance to arrest illegals

Since tens of thousands of illegal immigrants marched in major U.S. cities on Tuesday, it's a pity we didn't seize the opportunity to surround them and round them up then and there ("Immigration marches are smaller," May 2).

W. H. Earle


Ruling respects life, public will

The Supreme Court's decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion is a welcome step toward restoring a culture of life in America ("Court's abortion ruling revives 19th-century paternalism," Opinion

Commentary, April 27).

After years and years of abortion on demand, our society had become so callous and indifferent to the life of the unborn child that we permitted doctors to conduct the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure.

In Gonzales v. Carhart, the high court finally recognized what most Americans instinctively understood when they first heard about this brutal procedure.

The court affirmed Congress' finding that partial-birth abortion has a "disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant."

This Supreme Court ruling also upholds representative government.

Responding to the public outrage against this shocking method of abortion, Congress had repeatedly passed laws banning partial-birth abortion, only to have President Bill Clinton veto them.

A new election and new appointments to the Supreme Court gave us a president and a court majority who were willing, finally, to respect the will of the American people.

Dana McKee

Seven Valleys, Pa.

Success in school starts in the home

The writer of the letter "Don't blame schools for students who fail" (April 28) penned quite an intellectual letter, referencing Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit as an ironic counterpart to a Sun editorial with the same title ("No exit," April 22).

While I missed the editorial, I'll take the writer's word that it suggested we should hold teachers and schools more accountable for failing students.

But to my surprise, the letter writer turned things right around and blamed the government for failing students.

This surprised me because it meant that, yet again, I read an exchange on education that said nothing about the role or culpability of the parents.

But let's face it, discipline, manners, habits, studying, etc., all start at home, not in the classroom or, God forbid, with the government.

Peter B. Bell


Only gunman guilty in Virginia shootings

I am one of the grown-ups who do not agree with Susan Reimer and others who believe that there were 33 victims at Virginia Tech ("Va. Tech students write quiet words of forgiveness," May 1).

By my count, there were 32 victims and one homicidal maniac who victimized the other 32.

In Ms. Reimer's world, blame for the Virginia Tech tragedy is attributable to "the world's collective fault."

In the real world, the blame belongs to Seung-Hui Cho.

I am part of the real world, and I absolutely refuse to accept any responsibility for Mr. Cho's actions.

Perhaps it will come as a shock to Ms. Reimer to hear that in this world, there are bad people and some bad people do bad things. When they do so, it is their fault.

I cannot understand the refusal of people such as Ms. Reimer to place blame where it belongs.

Whatever happened to accountability for one's actions?

Gerald Langbaum


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