Medicaid FundingEditor: Ever since your paper's article of...


September 07, 1991

Medicaid Funding

Editor: Ever since your paper's article of last February detailing the state's plan to leverage ''extra'' Medicaid funds through provider-fee taxes, The Sun has had a field day describing the program as a scam, a flim-flam, and "Fool the Feds."

A Sun editorial writer spared few invectives in the ''Fool the Feds"editorial (Aug. 3) by labeling our Provider Fee Program (PFP) as ''brazen,'' ''a blatant shell game,'' ''flagrant sleights of hand,'' and a ''dubious practice.''

I'm sick and tired of this unfair criticism. Your righteous indignation in the absence of the recognition that thousands of Marylanders would be without health care without this proposal is at best irresponsible journalism.

The editorial states, ''The governor claims Congress has gone on record supporting such an approach to help the states.'' This isn't a claim, it's a fact.

A week before the editorial ran, I sent your paper a copy of a letter Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House subcommittee on health and the environment, wrote to Gail R. Wilensky, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) on Medicaid contributions and provider taxes.

Referring to an agreement reached between Congress and HCFA last October, Mr. Waxman states, ''Again, our agreement was that states are authorized to use revenues from provider taxes to finance Medicaid spending.'' Further on in his letter, Mr. Waxman says, ''Whether HCFA and OMB believe it or not -- or, to be more honest, whether HCFA and OMB agree with it or not -- permitting states to claim federal matching payments for any imposed tax was precisely our intent.''

May I ask why this has not made it in print in The Sun? Perhaps the answer is that printing such material would only obviate The Sun's spurious arguments to the contrary.

The Sun's memory can be very short and selective. Remember the furor last winter over our proposals to cut the Kidney Disease Program, the Personal Care Program, and the Pharmacy Assistance Program in order to bring our ever-growing Medical Assistance Program in check? The editorial writer and newspaper writers fail to mention that without our Provider Fee Program, we would not have been able to save these programs which to many are a ''life and death issue.''

I would think that the state taxpayers and The Sun would be pleased that the Schaefer administration has found a way to avoid cutting services to those who are truly needy rather than playing these silly word games.

Nelson J. Sabatini.


N The writer is state secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Common Sense

Editor: Gay Welsh, the Dundalk mother who is pushing to have safety regulations for power mowers (The Sun, Aug. 26), voices concerns that are valid and commendable.

Yet all the pain Christina Welsh and her family have been through has been caused by one thing, a lack of common sense. To my knowledge tractor lawn mowers are not meant to take the family on Sunday drives. Tractor lawn mowers have one seat intended for one person, not one person and their children, no matter how much fun it may look like.

Just as you would not let Junior use the power saw, parents should instinctively know to keep their children away from dangerous machinery. It is a tragedy that Christina Welsh was almost a fatality of such carelessness.

Even if such safety regulations as Mrs. Welsh is suggesting do pass the General Assembly, it is doubtful that they will be effective.

First, there is no way to enforce this law, unless we have police cars patrolling every suburban area in Maryland.

Second, if a law is not being enforced, then people will feel it is OK to break that law.

Third, many people in our society are under the impression that, ''Oh, those things will never happen to me, they only happen to other people.'' Sadly, for the Welsh family this false sense of security was shattered with the injury of their daughter.

I feel there is a more effective avenue to prevent tragedies like this one. It is to go out and speak to others. Warn people of the hazards dangerous equipment like lawn mowers can create. Talking and communicating with people will sink in much better

than a couple of lines of print in a law book.

Rachel Chico.


A Friend in Need

Editor: Avrum K. Rifman, who died Aug. 25, was a wonderful humanitarian.

There are many ''good'' words that would describe ''Pat,'' as he was known to his many friends, but I will remember him most for helping me at a time when I really needed help. I was out of work seeking employment and gave Judge Rifman as a personal reference. The letter he wrote on my behalf speaks for itself.

I was hired as an account representative at the Savings Banking of Baltimore. I am now a vice president in charge of our private banking department.

We need more caring human beings like the late Judge Avrum Rifman.

Patricia B. Tatar.


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