Care for seniors is driven by mission rather than greedWe...

Letters to the Editor

June 04, 1999

Care for seniors is driven by mission rather than greed

We at the Mid-Atlantic Non-Profit Health and Housing Association (MANPHA), an association of not-for-profit Maryland and District of Columbia long-term care providers for seniors, read P. A. Sullivan's letter with some dismay ("Greed of nursing homes accounts for poor care," May 24).

That letter indiscriminately slammed all nursing homes and assisted living facilities for their "greed" and claimed that poor care results.

Many of MANPHA's members grew from services provided by religious organizations. They are mission -- not profit -- driven.

For instance, Catholic Charities provides nursing care, senior housing and assisted living services. Episcopal Ministries provides care through its continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).

Broadmead, a Baltimore County CCRC, and Friends Nursing Home in Sandy Spring were founded by Quakers. Jewish Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center and Hebrew Home of Greater Washington provide fine nuring care.

Other members, such as Allegany County Nursing Home and the Citizens Nursing Home of Frederick County, were started by local governments to provide care for their elderly citizens.

Given the pressures imposed by the federal government's miserly new Medicare reimbursement policies, the lack of Medicaid reimbursement for assisted living in the state, the draconian enforcement procedures federal and state governments are now using, and the shortage of qualified nurses and nursing assistants, a senior care provider must be driven by mission to open its doors every morning.

MANPHA's members are dedicated to quality care. Providers must meet expenses, of course, but the senior care providers we know do so without compromising the quality of care.

Izzy Firth, Columbia

The writer is president of the Mid-Atlantic Non-Profit Health and Housing Association.

Looking for solutions to the health care problem

We agreed with much of Stephen J. Salamon's letter, "Canadian model is not the best health care option," (May 28), but he offered no real health care solution.

We don't know all the answers either, but our consumers and providers should be able to develop a health insurance program that takes the best from Canada and our own health care model.

The program should include universal coverage, which guarantees choice and a comprehensive benefit package, including long-term care, medications and mental health coverage. Its implementation should not disrupt our current system.

One possibility would be to take our existing Medicare program, increase its benefits and expand it to insure everyone. It's called a single-payer system.

We suspect that such a program would provide consumers more benefits and more choice at lower cost.

And we're not talking about socialized medicine. We're talking about private medicine.

Dr. Neil Solomon, Baltimore

Albert P. Cohen, Snow Hill

Dr. Solomon is former Maryland secretary of health and mental hygiene. Mr. Cohen is executive director of UniPayer HealthCare Education and Action Inc.

Steve Salamon, the past president of Baltimore's Health Underwriter's Association claimed in his letter that arguing for health coverage for all via a single-payer approach is "shortsighted."

He seems to believe that health care is a commodity to be selectively distributed.

But health care is something more than a commodity.

It's a civic responsibility whose distribution should be based on principles of right, as opposed to the field's current domination by the "insurance principle," which has profit as its goal.

We must recognize that lack of preventive care, untreated disease and untended disability even for a "few" (more than 43 million uninsured nationally and almost 400,000 in Maryland, including 135,000 in Baltimore) diminishes our community.

Let's translate our concern about the uninsured and underinsured, along with concerns about premiums, deductibles, services not covered and limited health choices, and the fact that many of us may be but one pink slip away from joining the ranks of the uninsured, into a public issue.

William Sciarillo, Lutherville

Boston writer missed some key flag facts

I read with great interest David Shribman's informative Opinion Commentary column, "Restoring symbolic Old Glory" (May 27). He gives a detailed description of the original Star Spangled Banner and writes, "everything about this flag is larger than life."

And indeed it is. More remarkable is that the original flag was hand-sewn by Mary Pickersgill, her mother and her daughter in six weeks in Ms. Pickersgill's home, which is now the Star Spangled Banner Flag House on Pratt Street.

Ms. Pickersgill was commissioned to stitch the banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the bombardment in the War of 1812. That flag (now being restored by the Smithsonian Institution) inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that has become our national anthem.

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