Hospital CostsIn regards to the Health Service Cost...


July 27, 1995

Hospital Costs

In regards to the Health Service Cost Commission's plan to shift costs, the drop of $96 at Johns Hopkins for an appendectomy is not the problem. The problem is that after the drop, the cost is $5,097.

It would be more reasonable for the Health Services Cost Review Commission to run a limousine service to other hospitals in the state, so that a reasonable facility fee could be paid for an appendectomy.

Five thousand dollars for an appendectomy is outrageous. On the other hand, managed care will simply solve this problem by directing patients away from high-cost arenas.

Joseph H. Cutchin Jr., M.D.


Ph.D. Glut

Daniel Greenberg's June 27 Opinion * Commentary piece purports to explain why there are too many Ph.D.s coming out of graduate schools. It's simple: blame it on the faculty, who need students to justify their positions and provide intellectual stimulus.

Were it so simple.

Daniel Greenberg has tried to explain the demand for Ph.D. students in graduate schools; why faculty would find intellectual stimulation "regardless of ups and downs in the quality of applicants" is left unanswered.

But he does not bother to explain the supply, that is, why students would continue to apply in such numbers to graduate programs, when faced with job prospects as disheartening as those he describes.

Part of the answer lies in the duration of graduate school: four or even six years elapse between the decision to apply to graduate school and entry into the labor market.

Who can forecast job market conditions that far ahead? As a result, there will necessarily be periods when jobs are fewer than candidates, as has been the case since the recession of 1990.

Over the long term, however, it's hard to imagine applicants paying no attention whatsoever to the placement results of the schools they are applying to.

"The university system has never been particularly permeable to logic," he concludes. His own porousness to common sense is open to question.

Francois R. Velde


The writer is assistant professor of economics, Johns Hopkins University.

AIDS Illogic

Two articles in your July 15 edition perfectly illustrate the politics and illogic that dictate how our country deals with AIDS and those who carry the deadly retrovirus HIV-1 that can be spread through contact with bodily fluids.

In one article, the homosexual lobby is obviously involved in the persecution of a letter carrier who refuses to deliver to a new AIDS victim hospice set up on his route, fearing transmission through saliva of the victims licking the stamps of their letters.

However, in another article on the same day, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals correctly upheld a rapist's conviction on attempted murder charges because he knew he was infected with the HIV virus and raped his victim anyway, thus exposing her to the disease.

What is important about the decision is that Judge John Bishop, wrote that Texas and New Jersey courts had made rulings in similar cases, both involving inmates or suspects who spit saliva at guards or police.

Indeed, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran is quoted as saying, "If the HIV person on the street or in a prison is thinking about spitting upon . . . someone in a custodial situation, there's now an attempted murder charge that he has to think about."

I guess what we've learned here is that HIV is only contagious through saliva if you're a guard or cop in Maryland, but not if you're a postal worker in West Virginia.

Todd N. Wissing

Cary, N.C.

Rival Signals

While I can sympathize with classical music listeners in Baltimore looking for alternatives for the now defunct classical format at WJHU-FM, Morris Grossman's July 19 suggestion that the signal of WGMS-FM (103.5) in Bethesda be directed to the Baltimore area is unworkable . . .

WGMS broadcasts at 47 kilowatts, just 3 kilowatts shy of the maximum signal strength the Federal Communications Commission allows in this area.

Its signal is sufficient for the Washington metropolitan area it is licensed to cover. It is not legally possible for the station to raise power enough or direct its signal to improve reception in Baltimore.

I'm an announcer at WXCY-FM (103.7), a modern country station in Havre de Grace adjacent to WGMS on the dial. Our 50 kilowatt signal is aimed away from Baltimore and Washington so as not to interfere with WGMS.

If it was possible for WGMS to improve its signal in Baltimore, that would interfere with WXCY's signal, possibly causing us to lose many of our listeners and much of our business in Harford County as well as in the parts of Baltimore County our signal also reaches.

For those listeners who can tune it in, WGMS certainly is a viable option for Baltimore's classical music lovers. However, Baltimore's classical music fans should not get the impression from Mr. Grossman's letter that it is possible for them to improve the signal of WGMS without adversely affecting another Baltimore area station.

Keith Thompson

Middletown, Del.

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