Cutting MedicaidSenate and House budget committees have...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 30, 1995

Cutting Medicaid

Senate and House budget committees have called for billions be cut from both Medicare and Medicaid over the next few years.

When people hear Medicare, they usually think of older people. When they hear Medicaid, they may associate it only with welfare.

But consider that half of all Medicaid recipients are children who rely on this program to pay for their health care.

Many of these children are not statistics to our staff at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. They are patients and families struggling to deal with a serious illness or a long-term recovery period.

Any child's illness can put pressure on a family. But a working family that relies on programs like Medicaid to help them make ends meet has extra burdens.

Without the Medicaid program, fully four out of every 10 American children would have no health coverage, and half of all infants born would be uninsured.

In addition to spending cuts, the other idea legislators are pushing is changing Medicaid into a block grant to states. This would effectively end the entitlement status of the program.

If that happens, how will children in working families who cannot afford health insurance now ever gain access to health care? In Maryland, Medicaid provides coverage for approximately 19 percent of children under age 18.

In just one year in this country, the number of people without health insurance has grown from 39 to 41 million.

Eliminating the entitlement status of programs like Medicaid would have the effect of pushing even more people into the uninsured category.

And, consider the imbalance that exists: Non-elderly adults and children make up 70 percent of the Medicaid rolls -- yet they receive only 29 percent of the funds.

The rest (nearly 70 percent) goes to the elderly, blind, and disabled, who make up only about 27 percent of those who receive Medicaid. Cutting Medicaid is really cutting both children and seniors out of care.

Most of the press and public attention regarding the budget and health care has been focused on the Medicare program.

But the effects of Medicaid cuts on children, the disabled and the elderly could be devastating. Children don't earn a paycheck and can't vote -- giving them a political and economic disadvantage.

On behalf of the many children we treat each year, we urge Congress to maintain a minimum federal eligibility for all children that is based on family income rather than welfare status -- to guarantee children continued access to care and pediatric providers.

Francis A. Pommett Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Mt. Washington Pediatric Health System.

It's the Children

As a teacher completing his third year of work in BaltimorCounty, I have followed with interest the recent articles in The Sun concerning Stuart Berger's reappointment as school superintendent.

Perhaps the most interesting article was the one which appeared on June 16. In it Councilman Vince Gardina called for a new superintendent who would be "more capable of dealing with parents, teachers and elected officials."

As one of many teachers in the county who has witnessed first hand the many positive changes implemented by Dr. Berger, I found it most interesting that nowhere did Mr. Gardina mention children.

As a teacher, I have always been under the impression that they are to be our primary focus.

The fact that Councilman Gardina omits children from his criteria gives some insight as to why the Board of Education and not the County Council will decide whether or not to renew Dr. Berger's contract.

Christopher Battaglia

Bel Air

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Antique Dealers

I have been the owner of Amos Judd & Son on Howard Street for 22 years, and as president of Howard Street's Antique Row Association, I want to voice my deep concern about your destructive front page article on June 18.

Because a thief was able to fool our dealers, just like he was able to fool the family that hired him into thinking that he was an honest person, is no reason to slander the reputation of honorable dealers trying to earn a living.

Antique dealers are not in the same category as pawn shop owners. Many customers are our friends. The six dealers mentioned in your article are my best friends, and I would stake my reputation on their honesty.

In fact, Philip Dubey, the vice president of the Antique Row Association, assisted the police by identifying the thief using his copy of the Pawn Shop Unit report that he had filed, and he helped the victim's daughter by walking Antique Row store by store for an hour and a half looking for any of the missing items.

How sad it was to see you suggest that the dealers on Antique Row are basically greedy dishonest store owners.

In reality, the owners mentioned in your article have not deserted the city but have been the city's largest supporters in an area that needs your help, not your poison pen.

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