New Health Plan?As a practicing physician and surgeon of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 06, 1993

New Health Plan?

As a practicing physician and surgeon of 50 years, now retired, I am at a loss to comprehend the presidential health moves.

The proposals surfacing about the (new?) Clinton health plan are:

1. Not new and not even a good retread of our flawed and failed present system.

2. More expensive -- it should be less expensive.

3. Causing increased taxation of us all. Under a proper system, taxes should fall with the removal of unnecessary bureaucracy and blizzards of paper.

4. Restricting and removing American freedom of choice of physician, hospital, type of care, etc.

5. Increasing bureaucracy, control and cost -- federal, state and local.

6. Fractionating medicine and medical care across the 50 states of this nation.

7. Balkanizing the United States as state after state goes its own way in frustration, seeking a variety of solutions in a leaderless nation in health care.

There are many other problems with the non-system now in place in the United States costing 14 percent of Gross Domestic Product with 37 million uninsured. . . .

Could it be that the Clintons are in confusion? Or are wmisinterpreting their spin on health care?

Ross Z. Pierpont, M.D.

Baltimore

Treat Addicts

With all the discussion about how needle exchange programs might get more addicts into treatment and how eliminating mandatory sentences will also get more people into drug treatment, there is one thing that's missing -- enough treatment slots, especially for the indigent.

In the last few years the state of Maryland has cut millions of dollars for drug and alcohol treatment, and in President Clinton's new drug-abuse budget, 65 percent of the funds is allocated for enforcement while only 35 percent is allocated for treatment and education programs.

Several years ago, our nation attempted to handle overcrowding in our mental institutions by deinstitutionalization, with the goal of placing patients in community-based treatment programs.

The problem was, there were not enough local treatment programs for the poor. As a result, we created an epidemic of mentally ill homeless people.

If we are going to fight the nation's drug problem as a health-care crisis, which we should, we had better make sure that appropriate treatment services are available to all who can benefit from them, regardless of ability to pay.

This must be in place before we even consider needle exchange programs, the elimination of mandatory sentences or any other policy change that will create a greater demand for treatment.

If we don't, the cycle of addiction will continue and so will our nation's drug crisis.

Michael M. Gimbel

Towson

The writer is director of the Baltimore County Office of Substance Abuse.

Billboard Bill

We are writing in response to the editorial of May 26, "Close Call on Liquor Billboard Ban."

You state that SB 808, the liquor advertising ban, does not affect advertisements on the sides of the liq uor establishments. This is incorrect.

The advertising ban applies to all outdoor alcohol advertising except for the advertisements on MTA vehicles, taxi cabs and institutions run by the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The ban removes the thousands of unsightly alcohol signs covering liquor stores and taverns in our neighborhoods.

You stated that this bill raised constitutional questions. Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and attorneys at the Gallagher, Evelius and Jones law firm opined that SB 808 is in fact constitutional.

Commercial speech can be regulated by the government if done so in the best interest of citizens and if the ban is sufficient to alleviate an identified problem.

The problem in this case is the targeted alcohol ads to children. As you noted, the targeted advertising of alcohol products to children is a severe problem in inner city Baltimore.

Our coalition has worked with both the tavern owners and billboard industry.

Many of the liquor establishment owners support the ban, while the billboard companies have offered no support or concessions whatsoever.

Beverly A. Thomas

Hathaway C. Ferebee

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, chairperson of the City Wide Liquor Coalition and executive director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

Color Blind

It was interesting to compare the three versions of the articles on the fraternity hazing incident at University of Maryland College Park in the New York Times, Washington Post and The Sun on May 27.

Now, being the sensationalists that they are, The Sun and the Times placed their articles on the front page.

The Post's piece didn't even make the front page of its Metro section. It was on Page 3.

In addition, the Times and Sun neglected to include that Omega Psi Phi is an historically black fraternity. The Post mentioned that fact.

I believe that The Sun chose the correct approach. But since today everything is broken down by race and gender, this fact was part of the reporting.

Unfortunately, many newspapers are selective in their use of color (historically black colleges, but not fraternities).

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