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The Baltimore Sun

Access to health care can help save infants

What was most striking about The Baltimore Sun's analysis of Maryland's appallingly high infant mortality rate is its inexplicable omission of comprehensive health insurance as a necessary part of the solution - and the editorial's failure to cite the lack of access to insurance as at least a precipitating factor, if not an outright cause, of low-birthweight babies ("Why do so many die?" editorial, Sept. 28).

That's like addressing lead poisoning in the city without taking on lead paint or lamenting automobile-related fatalities without at least a passing mention of seatbelt use.

Yes, the problem is more complicated than access to insurance alone, and yes, issues of poverty and race remain factors even when health insurance is a given. But, unfortunately, comprehensive health insurance wasn't a given for more than 46 million people in this country, nearly 800,000 in Maryland and about 100,000 in Baltimore last year.

Despite some limited public health programs, thousands of uninsured women go without health care before and even during their pregnancies.

The fact that the U.S. ranks highest in infant mortality among industrialized nations is not coincidentally related to our solitary failure to guarantee comprehensive health care for everyone - rich or poor, citizen or visitor.

The Baltimore Sun correctly criticizes the fragmented series of uncoordinated federal, state and local public health programs that address the health of women and infants.

But rather than seek new buoyancy for these sinking ships, why not embrace the opportunity to construct a new vessel based on a guarantee of health insurance for all?

Perhaps when we have gathered the will to ensure health care for our neighbors, tackling poverty and racism won't seem quite so daunting.

Kevin Lindamood Jeff Singer, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the vice president for external affairs and the president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Pollution real threat to crab population

The Baltimore Sun's editorial "A disaster on 10 legs" (Sept. 25) correctly describes the state of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab as a disaster and correctly attributes the crabs' decline to water pollution and loss of habitat.

However, the editorial overemphasizes crab harvesting as the culprit and supports the drastic short-term fix imposed by the governors of Maryland and Virginia that has reduced the commercial catch by 34 percent.

This solution imposes virtually all the burden on commercial crabbers, who are only partially responsible for the disaster.

An effective permanent remedy must directly attack water pollution, which is the principal reason for the disaster.

Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.

The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

Don't bet gamblers will flock to Rocky Gap

I always appreciate Gadi Dechter's writing, and his article about problems associated with putting slot machines in an underachieving resort in Allegany County was no exception ("Slots in W. Md. Could be area's ruin - or salvation," Sept. 22).

I would only inquire: Who is going to travel to Rocky Gap to gamble during the coming post-peak oil production years?

Assuming a trip from Baltimore to Rocky Gap (approximately 133 miles), a 20-mile-per-gallon vehicle and $5-per-gallon for gas, it would cost these gamblers $65 just to visit the portals of slots paradise with a fake lake in the background.

The state's full-cavity search for suckers for this ill-conceived and devious venture seems like an obvious prescription for failure.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

Funds wasted on war could pay for bailout

I suppose President Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever.

I've read that the war in Iraq is costing us about $10 billion a month, with the total cost estimated to be at least $1 trillion, not to mention all the American lives lost.

Just think, we could have easily afforded the so-called bailout with all that money ("Bailout bill passes Senate," Oct. 2).

I usually vote Republican in presidential elections. But I will not vote for Mr. Bush's pal, Sen. John McCain.

Frederick Reich, Rosedale

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