Panel's report on drugs was right on targetAs a lifelong...

the Forum

March 23, 1993

Panel's report on drugs was right on target

As a lifelong resident of southwest Baltimore, I agree with the recent findings of a special grand jury that the Police Department is having no effect on the drug trade in this city. The Police Department brass seem to be wearing blinders. They are not in touch with the citizens of Baltimore.

It is very frustrating to watch one's neighborhood being taken over by drug dealers and the crime that comes with them.

They stand on the corners 24 hours a day, every day. It doesn't matter if you are walking with two 8-year-olds or your 80-year-old grandmother; they let you know they have drugs for sale.

They are very vocal and compete with each other to make a sale. They don't even try to hide what they are doing.

I don't know how the Police Department can ignore the "New York boys." They bring drugs, guns and violence with them when they come here. They set up shop here because it's so easy. Baltimore seems to be an easy place to make money from the drug trade. Why?

The city state's attorney thinks the report is "ridiculous." The mayor thinks the report is "untrue." The truth is that the grand jury's report represents the cold hard facts -- and the truth hurts.

I invite Mayor Kurt Schmoke, State's Attorney Stuart Simms and Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods to tour my neighborhood unannounced around dusk any day of the week.

My neighborhood is littered with vials and dirty needles. It is hard to deny it when it's right in front of your face every time you step out of your front door.

I'm tired of being held prisoner by these drug dealers. They run this city. Everyone seems to know this except our elected officials.

Why don't they stop wasting time denying it and do something about it before it's too late?

Gordon T. Hall

Baltimore

Paying less for better health care

I am extraordinarily pleased that Rep. Jim McDermott and Rep. John Conyers and 50 others have introduced the American Health Security Act. Finally, we can get moving toward giving Baltimoreans a sane way to obtain health coverage.

It is doubly pleasing to know that there will be an opposing view to President Clinton's managed care approach. At stake is nothing less than the health and economic security of the nation.

The American people want a complete overhaul of our health care system. They expect the federal government to accomplish that goal. This can't happen with the managed competition plan currently favored by the administration.

The Clinton camp is turning somersaults to avoid a direct clash with the insurance industry.

Prudential, Aetna, Metropolitan Life and other insurance giants have lined up behind the Clinton plan because it expands their fastest growing line of business: owning and operating health maintenance organizations.

The trouble is, the only way to save enough money to control costs is to curtail the private health insurance industry.

Managed competition drastically limits consumer choice of physicians by forcing all people into an HMO on the basis of cost, not quality of care. People who now see particular doctors they like would have to change to whatever "gatekeeper" their new HMO selects for them. Compare that to a single payer plan which would provide full insurance coverage and doctor choice.

To make matters worse, managed competition limits choice and rations care without controlling costs.

A study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office found that even a modest managed competition plan which attempts to cover only a part of the population would continue to increase health care costs at the current steep rate of escalation.

The system injects a new layer of bureaucracy into the health care system while doing nothing to curb administrative overhead. In contrast, a single payer national health insurance plan is the best way to control costs, the CBO study found.

Poll after poll shows that Americans are more willing to pay a tax increase in exchange for health security. But they will not and should not pay more and get less.

In exchange for their tax dollars, people want complete coverage for all necessary medical services and, most of all, they want security. Security means cradle-to-grave coverage for everyone, no matter where you work, where you live, who your family is or what your genes are.

In the McDermott/Conyers plan, the program is essentially the same as the Canadian model. The program would be federally funded, locally administered and privately provided.

All Americans would receive a national health security card entitling them to care at the hospital, clinic or doctor's office of their choice.

All necessary medical expenses would be covered, including mental health, dental and long term care benefits, with an emphasis on preventive medicine, home-based care and expanding the availability of primary care.

Hospitals and nursing homes would receive lump sum payments from the National Health Security Board with input from regional health planning boards.

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