Peace is the best solution for KosovoThe Sun editorializes...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 03, 1999

Peace is the best solution for Kosovo

The Sun editorializes that "NATO allies must stay the course in Kosovo" (March 30). This is in spite of the fact that instead of bringing peace to the region, the U.S.-led NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia are the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire.

The bombing is exacerbating what it was supposed to prevent. Slobodan Milosevic and his thugs have increased the slaughter of Kosovars as nationalist hatreds intensify. Russsia's opposition reinvigorates Cold War antagonisms and effectively shuts down talks on nuclear disarmament.

Airstrikes will likely lead to the deployment of ground troops as the war widens and the carnage intensifies.

Wars develop their own momentum. "Resolve" and "credibility" become ends in themselves -- witness "peace with honor" as a justification for continuing the Vietnam War.

As with anything initiated by men, the bombing can be halted, contingent on the cessation of human rights abuses. A cease fire must be declared between the Kosovars and the Serbians, and all parties must begin intense negotiations.

Nonviolent methods have not been successful to date. That does not mean they will be unsuccessful in the future. It is better to have years of frustrating negotiations than a military solution that will result in thousands of deaths and long-term hostilities. A military settlement imposed by outside forces will not likely heal wounds or lead to a lasting peace.

Lee Lears, Annapolis

Health insurance cuts hurt good Md. program

I have deep concerns about the viability of the state's managed care program for the Medicaid population, HealthChoice.

The state has made tremendous progress in containing costs in this program and has already achieved a 4 percent savings from the old fee-for-service program, traditionally one of the fastest-growing segments of the state budget. Let's not destroy the gains we have made with overly aggressive cost savings requirements now.

At issue is the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's proposal to cut funding for the program by 3.7 percent over the next 21 months. What is particularly troublesome is that this proposal does not include any adjustment for medical inflation, which is running at 6 to 7 percent annually. Insurance costs in the commercial market are rising 6 to 10 percent, and the cost of pharmaceuticals is going up by 15 to 20 percent a year.

Taking inflation into account, the state's proposal amounts to about a 7.5 percent reduction in HealthChoice funding.

Because of issues raised last summer surrounding the adequacy of funding for the program, a study was conducted by an outside independent actuarial firm. The study released in February concluded that the payments made under the HealthChoice program last year were appropriate -- there was no overpayment as the state had originally contended. In addition, the study found that the state had been overly optimistic in its expectation of a 10 percent savings reduction under the managed care program.

Organizations must be allowed to fairly reimburse the providers with which they contract for the services the state requires. The state should resist being penny wise and pound foolish. Let's not repeat what we have seen happen in the Medicare program and in the state's Medicaid program.

Sister Helen Amos, Baltimore

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center.

A step that curbs diesel pollution

At long last, our timid legislators in Annapolis have taken a first step toward curbing the black smoke and soot spewed into the air by large trucks and buses that burn diesel fuel and pollute the atmosphere ("House OKs bill calling for emissions testing for large diesel trucks," March 26). For years, while passenger cars have been subjected to periodic emissions testing, trucking industry lobbyists protected their clients from regulation.

Since it calls only for random testing of trucks stopped for routine inspections at weigh stations and doesn't go into effect until July 2000, the newly enacted legislation falls far short of eliminating the pollution caused by trucks. But it's a step in the right direction. Under this legislation, vehicles that violate environmental standards would be given 30 days to make repairs.

Special thanks go to Baltimore County Democrat Dan K. Morhaim, who sponsored the bill in the House of Delegates. The bill has passed the Senate in nearly identical form and has the support of Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Albert E. Denny, Baltimore

Tough decision but right one

I wish to congratulate you for making the very difficult decision to terminate a reporter who fabricated a quotation and for informing your readers. This type of swift and sure action contributes to maintaining the integrity of your newspaper while bolstering the confidence of your readership in what you present on the printed page.

George L. Shepard, Cockeysville

County has obligation to keep horse farm

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