Reality of MedicareIn response to Rep. Ben Cardin's letter...


September 26, 1992

Reality of Medicare

In response to Rep. Ben Cardin's letter to the editor of Sept. 16, I have the following comments and a question.

Representative Cardin's concern is higher out-of-pocket costs to seniors and budget realities that may affect the Medicare system.

I wonder why Mr. Cardin does not present the details of the great Medicare experiment carried on in his home district, known as the Municipal Health Services Program. Since 1979, $190 million of precious Medicare funds have been directed toward this program, which provides every possible out-of-pocket medical expense imaginable.

Baltimore residents with Medicare cards through this program are entitled to free medical, dental, prescription, eye and foot care. This program even treats long toenails as a covered medical service.

Believe it or not, the purpose of this program was to show that the payment of every possible bill for Medicare recipients would save money.

Does it seem reasonable that the government could determine after 13 years whether or not money is saved as a result of unlimited spending?

Bruce Lebowitz



Rep. Ben Cardin's effort to defend Gov. Bill Clinton in his Sept. letter, "Medicare Reality," was a noble political move.

For who better to write such a defense of the real economics of our health care system than one who has politically gained by keeping our city's seniors in a "free lunch" health care bubble.

The congressman has openly supported the Municipal Health Service Program, and in his report in the Northwest Star had stated a need to "examine the possibilities for expanding the program to other areas."

This MHSP bubble is funded through a non-means-tested Medicare waiver, which last year funded over $17 million into two "non-profit" corporations.

This program has taken the health care needs of approximately 30,000 Baltimore residents out of the open health-care market by providing them with preventive care, prescription drugs, podiatry care, optometric care, physical therapy, dental care/dentures, psychological services, van transportation, audiology services and some medical devices exclusively at four clinics.

I have been attempting to operate a health care business within the real economics of Baltimore City. The congressman reports that "inflation in health care costs exceeded 10 percent last year," but all I see are private providers who are barely existing or closing their doors.

He also suggests that we respond to Medicare cuts by raising our charges to businesses. What business in the Baltimore region would foot the charge to absorb a hit of $17 million?

In light of my past attempts to bring Baltimore back to Medicare reality, I find his letter doesn't respond to the real issues of medical economics.

Next, I'll be looking for Sen. Barbara Mikulski writing about the advantages of free enterprise in the health care system. The senator, by the way, has been instrumental in keeping this bubble funded, and many of the recipients of these exclusive funds have been heralding her re-election effort.

I don't think the congressman or our senator want Medicare reality, because:

When the bubble breaks,

The pork barrel will roll,

And down will come the two of them,

Freeing our economic soul.

Michael Hargadon, D.D.S.


Ft. Meade Forests

I write to comment on William Rinehart's letter appearing Sept. 10, in which he questions the Aug. 1 editorial, "Protecting a Treasure at Fort Meade."

Mr. Rinehart shows little understanding of how human activity disturbs the natural wildlife environment.

He states that the 500 acres within the total of 8,100 acres transferred from Fort Meade to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which Anne Arundel County is trying to acquire for a recreational park, is "not undisturbed old forest." So what?

Indeed, it is not, as it contains the former parachute drop site and a myriad of access roads. But it is adjacent to forested areas and, with adequate tree planting, can within Mr. Rinehart's lifetime become a recognizable forest and a worthy addition to the neighboring unique remainder of the 8,100 acres. That forms the largest Maryland land transfer since the royal land grant to Lord Baltimore over three centuries ago.

To use any of this area for county ballfields would bring noise, people, cars and litter into an area that should be preserved in a natural state for the wildlife that is crowded out everywhere else by continuous development throughout the remainder of Anne Arundel County.

The Fort Meade Coordinating Council, the West County Parks Advisory Committee, the Sierra Club, the Severn River Association and others are all opposed to any county park on the Fort Meade property.

It is good to know that according to Mr. Rinehart, "we are pursuing several other park projects through the west county."

Only the short-sighted opportunist would try to put ballfields on 500 acres of the last great unimproved area in Anne Arundel County.

Stuart G. Morris


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