Forget about air bags, make better bumpersAir bags are now...

LETTERS

December 04, 1996

Forget about air bags, make better bumpers

Air bags are now replacing bumpers. The cleverly engineered and designed front and rear on most new automobiles guarantee they will be instantly damaged or crushed in impacts over 5 miles per hour. The auto industry successfully lobbied for years to obtain this minimal collision standard, but where do automobiles travel at this speed? Attractive plastic or fiberglass covers a small band of metal backed by foam rubber.

America's biggest motorist rip-off creates unsafe and life-threatening risks, more business for the auto industry and auto repair shops, very high insurance premiums plus an additional financial burden for all auto consumers.

It is time for car buyers to wake up and demand safer automobiles that consider you, the consumer, and your primary protection in future designs, so you won't have to depend on air bags to protect you and your children from tragedy.

Frank Bressler

Baltimore

Health care companies duck accountability

The rapid change in the structure of the nation's health care--delivery system is bewildering. Most people are unaware that vast corporations are having profound effects on the most intimate medical decisions.

Even more troubling, the same HMOs and managed care companies that are reshaping the medical landscape, at times making it a minefield of unproven clinical assumptions, irrational policies and destructive intrusions, are seeking the most unethical and hypocritical advantage: They want the power and financial rewards of controlling this massive industry without any accountability.

In fact, they insist that they are protected against any malpractice claims by a federal law (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) which was passed in 1974, long before the current health care revolution, and was never meant to be used in this fashion.

HMOs, which cut health expenses by controlling the who, what, where, when and how of medical care, want the public to accept that as institutions they bear no responsibility for medical outcomes.

Instead, they maintain that malpractice liability rests with the doctor. This blatantly ignores and avoids the controls, oversights and structures that HMOs create which have a dramatic impact on physician behavior.

Wielding the economic carrot and stick, large health organizations control access to patients and by doing so can force doctors to accept a variety of limitations on care, or drive them out of business.

Only recently have HMOs been challenged for having gag clauses in their contracts with providers which prevent physicians from informing patients about limitations on care imposed by HMOs.

If HMOs do not control how health care is delivered why would they need to silence doctors?

While many reasonable people debate how to control health care costs, no reasonable person can accept that the current architects of our health care system want the economic rewards without acknowledging their critical role in the decisions that determine the health care of millions.

Joseph Sokal, M.D.

Baltimore

Media partnerships promote BSO concerts

Daniel Franko Goldman's letter to the editor in yesterday's Sun suggested that the Baltimore Symphony has become a "corporate sponsor" of programming on Maryland Public Television. I'd like to clarify our relationship with MPT.

The Baltimore Symphony is indeed a non-profit cultural institution which promotes and sells over 200 concerts a year and it does so through a limited advertising budget which we work very hard to enhance through media partnerships. Media partnerships give the Baltimore Symphony the ability to promote events with little or no advertising dollars. One such partnership is with Maryland Public Television.

The promotional spots which Mr. Goldman saw prior to "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" stated "this program was made possible in part on MPT by the Baltimore Symphony." Although it may have appeared to Mr. Goldman that this language indicates that the BSO is a corporate sponsor of the program, the fact is that all promotional spots on public television must adhere to this format, whether they are free or paid spots. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is not a corporate sponsor.

The BSO is not underwriting the cost of producing any PBS shows, but rather we are using this media partnership with Maryland Public Television as the best way to reach an audience which might attend the Baltimore Symphony. We are grateful for the support of our media partners which include various radio stations, television stations and newspapers and magazines in Baltimore and throughout Maryland. Without their generosity, we would have a difficult time promoting the wide variety of concerts and free events that serve the entire Baltimore metropolitan area.

!Calman J. Zamoiski Jr.

Baltimore

L The writer is president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Where there's Will there's distortion

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