Medicaid cuts hurt all familiesWhile recognizing Medicaid...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

October 28, 1995

Medicaid cuts hurt all families

While recognizing Medicaid as a valuable program in need of reform, the Alzheimer's Association calls on Congress to reduce Medicaid cuts and save the system for families with a loved one with Alzheimer's who have nowhere else to turn.

Congress now is considering legislation to reduce Medicaid spending by $182 billion over the next seven years.

Under these cuts 6,900 people in Maryland could lose their eligibility for benefits in 1996. That number could grow to 63,000 people in the year 2002, almost a 50 percent decrease in the number of people served.

Bills under consideration would replace the federal health care program for the poor and disabled with block grants to the states.

Current federal protection for Medicaid beneficiaries would mostly be eliminated.

Many people do not understand that Medicaid pays half the nursing home bills in America. With nursing home bills averaging $38,000 yearly, few can afford to pay for long-term care for family members indefinitely.

These cuts mean that hard-working families would have no guarantee of help, even after they have spent all they have on nursing home bills. States would have the ability to stop Medicaid benefits for people with Alzheimer's.

This could be devastating to hundreds of thousands of families. It is estimated that 50 percent of nursing home residents have Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder.

This Medicaid ''reform'' is a budget-driven effort with little concern for the people on the receiving end.

They are the most vulnerable people in this country.

The House-passed bill would allow states to end spousal impoverishment protection, forcing people whose husbands or wives go into nursing homes to liquidate all their assets before they can qualify for assistance.

In the years before spousal impoverishment protections were passed, some men and women were forced to sue or divorce their spouses in nursing homes in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Legislation passed in both houses would eliminate federal nursing home quality standards, passed in 1987 after Congress found deplorable conditions and financial irregularities in many facilities.

It has reduced the number of nursing home residents who are chemically or physically restrained. People with Alzheimer's now are getting better care.

For the longer term, in order to reform Medicaid long-term care, the Alzheimer's Association recommends that Congress increase home and community-based care, which can be more desirable as well as cost-effective.

Congress should also consider coordinating payment and accountability for both acute care and long-term care by making Medicaid and Medicare work together.

These potential cuts in Medicaid put our parents, grandparents and families at risk. We must let state and federal legislators know that this is unacceptable.

Cass Naugle

Timonium

The writer is the executive director of the Baltimore/Central Maryland chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Cold War warrior was little known

Please allow me to provide some background information concerning the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which were mentioned in Bill Glauber's excellent story on Joseph Rotblat (Oct. 14, "Out of the bomb's shadow").

The Pugwash Conferences began in that small Nova Scotia town because of Cyrus S. Eaton, an industrialist and early anti-nuclear activist.

Mr. Eaton, who befriended Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War, was born in Pugwash and later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he launched a career that made him one of the wealthiest and most controversial men of his time.

When Mr. Eaton learned that a group of scientists from both sides of the ''Iron Curtain'' wanted a quiet spot where they could search for common ground free from ideological pressures, he offered his boyhood home.

He took no part in the deliberations, serving only as host and leaving the scientific discussion to scientists.

For several years Mr. Eaton subsidized the conferences and helped persuade communist governments to allow their scientists to travel to the Western Hemisphere.

I know this background because I spent a year processing the papers of Cyrus Eaton at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland.

Mr. Eaton, who died in 1979, was a very interesting person, a dedicated capitalist who dreaded the devastation of a nuclear war.

He made it his business to understand the Soviet leaders and their approach to world affairs and worked to bring the two sides together.

I would like to think that Mr. Eaton played some small part in bringing the Cold War to an end.

James Stimpert

Baltimore

Terps victorious on academic gridirons

The remarkable performances by the University of Maryland athletic teams this fall have captured the region's attention. National rankings in football, men's and women's soccer and field hockey come on the heels of last spring's success in men's and women's lacrosse and basketball.

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