Legislative IntentJohn Fairhall reported in a May 19...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 02, 1995

Legislative Intent

John Fairhall reported in a May 19 article that Dr. Rodney C. Armstead, director of the Office of Managed Care in the Health Care Financing Administration, warned that health maintenance organization "legislation recently passed by the Maryland General Assembly to protect consumers will in fact hurt the public by forcing HMOs to raise premiums."

It is apparent that Dr. Armstead is not fully informed regarding the legislation passed by the General Assembly. The legislation stated that if the employer offers an HMO plan, he must also offer a point of service plan. That offer need in no way impact on the premiums for the HMO plan. Indeed the plans may even be through separate insurers.

As stated in Mr. Fairhall's article, the legislators overwhelmingly approved the legislation in response to complaints from patients and doctors about HMO restrictions. Mr. Fairhall also reported that the Maryland Association of HMOs is not seeking a veto by Gov. Parris Glendening, having taken note of strong political support for the legislation.

This legislation guarantees that the employee will be offered a point of service program as well as an HMO program and that the employee will have to pay the difference between the cost of the HMO plan and the point of service plan as well as any deductibles and copays for the right to choose his own doctor. This is patently different than the interpretation of Dr. Armstead and should in no way alter the premium structures of HMOs and their restrictive programs.

I am glad that Governor Glendening accurately interpreted the legislation as fashioned by the General Assembly and did not pay heed to the misinterpretations of Dr. Armstead, which merely served to cloud the issues. There is no logical reason why employers seeking to purchase the least expensive health care insurance should restrict patients from seeking care from the physician and the hospital of their choice -- especially when they are willing to pay the extra cost for that privilege.

Aristides C. Alevizatos, M.D.

Baltimore

The writer is a past president of the Maryland Society of Internal Medicine.

Different Country

Don't know what country Roger Simon was writing about when he said "term limits are popular with those too lazy to vote."

I guess it is one where there are no such things as political action committees, lobbyists or other well oiled political machines that are more concerned with self-service than public service.

It must also be a place where anyone can be elected to office solely on the basis of sincerity and ability instead of financial backing and social status. And it most certainly is a place where people see political office as a public privilege rather than a career right and where incumbency is not king.

Until the United States becomes a country like Mr. Simon's imaginary one, we will need term limits to break the chain of opportunists. Call it just another case of welfare reform where we force people, who think they deserve taxpayer money for life, back into the harsh reality of the private sector they helped to create.

Incidentally, this supporter of term limits has exercised his right to vote ever since reaching voting age 22 years ago.

Jeffrey A. Gorman

Walton, Ky.

Pound of Flesh

Concluding "enough is enough," The Sun wants to put the travails and transgressions of Sen. Robert Packwood to rest (editorial, May 18). While your opinion on the senator is open to debate, it is curious that The Sun applies a different line of reasoning for Bruce Bereano by urging prosecutors to appeal Judge William Nickerson's sentence.

Bereano endured a 17-month grand jury "fishing" expedition; has spent nearly $500,000 defending himself; received a $20,000 fine; probably will lose his license to practice law; and lost 85 percent of his client base. Bereano paid this price despite being a first time offender in what the judge termed a "victimless" crime involving $16,000.

How much does the editorial board think a "pound of flesh" is worth these days?

Leroy Roloff

Essex

A Good Example

The March 18 story about sanitation worker David Steele was very gratifying. His work ethic is commendable and he provided an outstanding example of how we should all view our respective professions.

As a former teacher, I always stressed the importance of each individual's job in life, regardless of how menial it may seem. As I've pointed out to my students, the most important people in our neighborhood each Monday and Thursday, rain or shine, are the men who pick up and haul away our refuse. They deserve our respect for earning an honest living. A hearty salute to Mr. Steele and his crew. May the rest of us follow their example in our careers.

P.J. Pugh

White Marsh

Holding Schools Accountable for Learning

If The Sun really hopes that the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program does not become just another education fad that fails (editorial, May 20), then it should promote the fact that the MSPAP is not a stand-alone reform program.

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