Equal TreatmentI don't wish to be a bad sport, but, as a...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 21, 1992

Equal Treatment

I don't wish to be a bad sport, but, as a former neighbor of Memorial Stadium, I watched the city and the state make preparations for opening day with not a little interest. In fact, I was out driving around the Beltway beforehand and, to my amazement, I saw a number of signs exhorting motorists to avoid I-95 on opening day.

Coming home from the pro-choice rally in Washington, my friends and I eagerly tuned into the traffic channel only to hear nothing at all about the traffic created by a demonstration of a half a million people. Instead, we were once again dutifully warned to avoid I-95 on opening day!

Will this be happening every time the Orioles play a game in the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards? I have even heard that fans are being encouraged to park north of the new stadium, in the downtown area itself! What a brilliant idea.

I do however admire the careful planning and creative problem-solving that obviously went into planning traffic and parking management around the new stadium. It just proves the old adage to be correct, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

If only some of that same creativity had gone into planning for parking around Memorial Stadium, perhaps the Orioles would still be playing there.

Neighborhood residents spent many long hours in the past haggling with city officials about creative ideas to solve our (and the fans') parking problems. Every idea we came up with -- and many of them were very similar to those being used now for Camden Yards -- was vetoed by the city.

Gosh, it's amazing what a little power and influence can do. Why can't Baltimore treat all of its citizens with the same courtesy and respect the Os get?

Peggy D'Adamo

Baltimore

Avoiding Doom

Of course, no one likes to pay taxes. However, I am sure we would all have reason to complain had the governor's doomsday budget gone into effect.

So, thanks to the legislators who had the courage to vote for our increased taxes. They knew this might cost them some votes in the next election.

Virginia Frederick

Severna Park

How Radiologists Work

On April 4, The Sun saw fit to write one of the most poorly researched and inaccurate editorials I have ever seen in print ("Aromatic Bill in Annapolis").

The editors chose to lambaste HB 1374, which would have prohibited physicians from referring patients to facilities in which they have a financial interest and from which they often earn money from work done by other physicians.

The reason for this bill, and others like it being passed by legislatures around the country, is so obvious it is amazing that The Sun missed it.

At issue is the basic question of whether doctors should make money by steering patients to facilities in which they have a financial stake -- be it for radiation therapy, diagnostic tests, lab work, home infusion therapy, etc. -- in which work is done by other physicians. This is fee splitting, and the simple answer is that they should not.

What was of special concern to The Sun was that radiation oncologists were exempted from this prohibition on self-referrals. Don't the editors understand the basics of medical practice? Radiation oncologists were exempt under the bill because they do not make referrals.

If one has cancer, for example, then a physician (medical oncologist, internist, family practitioner) may refer a patient for radiation therapy. The radiation oncologist is merely the recipient of those referrals.

Radiation oncologists felt strongly that whoever makes referrals to them should have patients' interests as the No. 1 priority and not whether the referring physician could make money if the patient undergoes radiation therapy.

Physicians should not earn money based on work done by other physicians to whom they refer their patients.

A second point the editorial addressed was the fact that the bill had loopholes. These so-called "loopholes" would have allowed radiologists and pathologists to own the equipment they use to perform their respective specialties. However, physicians who referred to them could not own any of this equipment.

These were, therefore, not loopholes, just provisions to allow a physician to practice his or her own specialty in his or her own office setting.

The editorial alleged that there is only anecdotal evidence that speaks to abuses in this field. Is it anecdotal that a May 1989 study done by the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general's office found that patients of referring doctors who invested in clinical labs received 45 percent more services than Medicare patients in general?

Is it anecdotal that the Health Care Cost Containment Board of Florida released a report in the fall of 1991 showing significant abuses of patient referrals for diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy in facilities with referring doctor ownership?

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