All employers should share health costsI am writing in...

the Forum

October 20, 1993

All employers should share health costs

I am writing in support of mandatory employer coverage of health insurance.

Our business in Baltimore County, of which I am chief executive officer, offers such coverage for our employees on a cost-sharing basis. I believe that the cost of health insurance is part of the cost of doing business and should be the responsibility of the employer.

Businesses that fail to provide health coverage to their employees hurt those of us who act responsibly by shifting health costs to our businesses. They then add insult to injury by undercutting our prices in the marketplace because their costs are lower.

Some small businesses claim that mandatory employer health insurance will increase their costs and therefore drive them out of business or force employee layoffs.

This makes little sense since they will be able to raise prices to offset higher costs at little penalty because their competitors, being in the same boat, will also be raising prices.

The only fair and responsible policy is to require all employers, large and small, to provide health insurance coverage to their workers on a cost-sharing basis.

Jack Kinstlinger

Baltimore

The writer is chairman and CEO of KCI Technologies, Inc.

Bed and breakfast

If Baltimore is to be downgraded by the powers-that-be from a hard-working factory town to some exotic tourist attraction, then we had better find some better ways for us "natives" to share in the tourist dollars -- short of diving for coins off the pier.

BUILD (Baltimore United in Leadership Training) already has a leg up on the situation by its campaign to raise hotel workers' wages above poverty levels.

I've got another suggestion. Lots of city dwellers have an extra bedroom or comfortable cellar that is not in use most of the time.

Why not inspect and register such sleeping facilities with a resuscitated and expanded Baltimore City Tourist Bureau? Such a computerized central office equipped with a toll-free 800 line could make credit-card reservations for an out-of-towner of any economic level to much more affordable housing.

Decades back, I could afford to visit Atlantic City because the guest houses were so affordable. I haven't been there since the big hotels squeezed them out and jacked up the rates. And look at the terrible price "non-boardwalk" Atlantic City paid for its glitzy hotels.

Such Baltimore "guest houses," "tourist houses" and "bed and breakfasts" directly obtaining those much needed tourist dollars could begin to put the "home" back in "home industry."

Hosts could squeeze additional dollars out of guests through optional meals, tourist guiding, transportation and pottering.

Tourists could have a wider choice to save money. More tourists would visit -- resulting in more real money for more real Baltimoreans.

The entire project could easily pay for itself (and then some) through a local tax added to the tourist's room charge. We could even extend the courtesy to surrounding counties -- for a slightly higher tax, of course.

When Baltimore pioneers in this effort, other cities will inevitably return the compliment and develop their own local "home" industry, thus making it possible for Baltimoreans of any income level to travel again.

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore

Haiti and U.S.

When it comes to distinguishing between international problems Congress has the agility and response rate of a tree stump.

No one in Congress reacted when the U.N. mission in Somalia shifted from feeding the starving to dangerous "nation building," and now many in Congress are over-reacting to implementing the Governor's Island Agreement, signed earlier this year by the U.S. and the various Haitian parties.

Unlike Somalia or Bosnia, Haiti is within our sphere of influence. We are directly impacted by what occurs next on this small island 500 miles off our coast.

About 75 percent of the Haitians voted for Jean-Beltrand Aristide, but the other 25 percent had guns. An oil embargo and economic sanctions finally caused the military, who overthrew Aristide, to agree to restore him to office on Oct. 30 of this yar.

If the U.N. and U.S. fail to live up to their agreement to help democracy survive, nothing can stop the tidal wave of refugees that will flood our shores. And Haiti will then become a major drug distribution force in our hemisphere.

The U.S. and U.N. commitment involves helping rebuild infrastructure, such as roads and schools, and retraining a brutal and repressive police force.

Haiti is neither Vietnam nor Somalia. It is closer than Panama, where many congressmen applauded our disarming of a foreign army and the capture of a foreign leader.

To now allow a gang of sadistic thugs in a nearby city to intimidate us into abandoning our commitments to democracy and the Haitian people would be both tragic and dangerous.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Martin Luther, right and wrong

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