Health care victimsHillary Clinton recently promised to...

the FORUM

July 21, 1993

Health care victims

Hillary Clinton recently promised to "curb [doctors'] malpractice problems" in return for the American Medical Association's support of national health care.

This should set off alarm bells. Consumers' legal rights are being used as bargaining chips and we're not even sitting at the table.

The medical lobby would love to blame the rising health care costs on malpractice lawsuits. But the fact is that malpractice insurance premiums make up less than 1 percent -- 0.6 percent to be exact -- of total health care spending.

And so-called "defensive medicine" has been tied more to the extra income doctors make by ordering unnecessary tests and procedures than to the fear of lawsuits.

The real malpractice problem is that there is simply too much malpractice. The landmark Harvard Medical Practice Study shows that even as medical negligence kills 80,000 hospital patients annually, 9 out of 10 malpractice victims never file suit.

Rather than adopt the medical lobby's blame-the-victim agenda, our leaders should be looking for ways to improve the quality of health care. Prevention is the best medicine, for patients and doctors.

Concerned consumers should let the Clintons and Congress know that national health care must mean quality health care for all Americans.

Dan Pontious

Baltimore

The writer is health-care campaign director for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Rude hosts

Baltimore shines for the world during the All-Star Game? My foot!

I'm ashamed of Baltimore. This city let the shine that it put forward be tarnished. Baltimore showed just how rude, ignorant and uncouth it really is.

The host of the All-Star Game, viewed by the world, booed members of its own team. Yes, Cito Gaston may have made a mistake by not using Mike Mussina. However, he did have three of his World Series championship team elected to the team. He then proceeded to choose three more members of the World Series Champs, and a future Hall of Fame member.

No Baltimorean can tell me that they wouldn't have done the same thing if they were in that situation. Cal Ripken didn't deserve to be there, but I don't hear anyone in Baltimore complaining.

For 10 years now, Toronto has been the best and most consistent winning ball club in the major leagues. Yet, consistently, there has been a lack of Blue Jays on the All-Star roster. Can you explain that, Baltimore?

Maybe this year's All-Star Game can make up for all those years of exclusion. Let's face it Baltimore: The Toronto Blue Jays are the reigning World Champions, and with that comes certain perks. So if you want to have your players on the All-Star team, put up or shut up. Win the World Series.

R. W. Saienni

Baltimore

Congress bears financial blame

I am amazed at the level of knowledge some people exhibit relative to how our government operates.

I was not aware that the minority members of Congress, the Republicans, could dip into the Social Security fund without approval of the majority, the Democrats.

I am aware that a president of the United States does not have authority to raise or lower or discontinue taxes. The president may propose raising or lowering or discontinuing of taxes, but only Congress disposes.

President George Bush, a Republican president, agreed and approved raising taxes submitted by Congress, and as a Republican he paid dearly for this action.

President Bill Clinton is having his difficulties with his fellow Democratic congresspersons. Congress, as far as I know, has never relinquished its responsibility concerning funding for operating our government. I do not think it ever will, regardless of whether the president is Republican, Democrat or independent.

President Clinton may propose his budget, but Congress will determine what the budget will finally be. Democrats have done this for the last 40 years of their majority in the House of Representatives.

It surprises me how many people fail to know and acknowledge the responsibility of Congress relative to our current disastrous financial situation. The president has one vote (the veto), while Congress has 535 votes, more than enough to override any veto.

Further, it is an insult to my intelligence when I hear congresspersons refer to the deficits as a "Reagan deficit" a "Bush deficit," hoping the public will believe them -- and unfortunately many do believe them.

I hope that many of our citizen voters are aware of which department of our government controls the "purse strings".

James F. Macri

Baltimore

Service stint builds nation's character

I am responding to Denis P. Doyle's letter of July 11, "Service at high cost."

I agree that national service helps an individual grow and is healthy for society. However, he speaks for the status quo as an already senior fellow of an institute.

He makes lovely references to de Tocqueville and Aristotle about enlightened self-love, making service a part of our American nature and becoming virtuous by behaving virtuously (by doing free public service).

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