Destroying rowhouses shows city fails to respect its own...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 25, 2000

Destroying rowhouses shows city fails to respect its own past

Someone unfamiliar with the situation in the block west of Charles Street on 25th Street in Baltimore might be misled by the article "Rowhouses demolished for CVS drugstore" (Jan. 7).

The article described the buildings as "six dilapidated rowhouses." I would argue that at least two or three of the houses, and maybe all six, had not fallen into ruin until CVS had them demolished.

A CVS spokesperson was quoted saying, "We've been negotiating for two to three years." It would be more accurate to say that CVS avoided negotiations for two or three years.

There was but one meeting with the community, at which CVS dismissed an alternative plan to save the 25th Street facades.

I've always marveled at the way other countries preserve their architecture. It's shocking that the oldest building on 25th Street was demolished for a drugstore.

The city of Baltimore has not yet learned to value the past.

As someone who has lived, worked and volunteered on 25th Street for many years, I argue the neighborhood does not need a drugstore. But, once again, an imperial corporation has enforced its will against the concerns of citizens.

In protest, I will not shop at CVS.

Max Obuszewski

Baltimore

Citizens must insist that quality of care is protected

I would like to add my support to The Sun's views regarding draconian rate cuts for Maryland hospitals from the state's Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) ("Are state regulators starving Md. hospitals?" editorial, Jan 2).

As both a practicing physician and as a vice president of medical affairs for Northwest Hospital Center, I am in a position to see the adverse effects of these cuts both at the patient's bedside and for the larger health-care system.

The slow strangulation of hospitals for funds -- revenues needed to replace aging equipment, purchase state-of-the-art medical technology and provide the finest possible nursing and technical staffs -- threatens to undo the very purpose for which the commission was created: to safeguard the well-being of our citizens and their health-care delivery system.

And, to add insult to injury, the rate cuts were based on inaccurate data suggesting that Maryland hospitals were inefficient by national standards.

As the new legislative session begins, there should be no higher priority for our representatives than to insist on appropriate levels of hospital reimbursements to stop the erosion of health care services.

And there should be no higher priority for their constituents than to insist on it.

Dr. Ronald L. Ginsberg

Baltimore

Waiver would allow elders to stay in their community

I need to correct the figures The Sun's "Agenda 2000" editorial cited concerning funding for Maryland's Home and Community Based Medicaid waiver ("A time of plenty in Md. State House," Jan. 9).

The bill the General Assembly passed in 1999 mandates that the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene apply to the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) for a waiver to the matching medical assistance program.

Current Medicaid law requires those receiving this aid to be in a nursing facility.

This waiver would allow those more than 50 years old -- who qualify both physically and financially -- to remain in the community, in assisted living facilities or at home, while receiving financial aid from the state and federally funded Medicaid matching program. The waiver is still awaiting approval by HCFA.

The figures The Sun's editorial cited for this program -- $5 million to serve 7,500 people -- are incorrect. The $5 million is meant to serve 1,000 people in the program's first year of operation.

This program is to be phased in over four years -- and serve 7,500 people at the end of its fourth year.

While Maryland may be playing catch-up in the long term care field, this waiver would be more extensive and cover more services in the community than those most other states have received.

Paula C. Hollinger

Annapolis

The writer represents District 11 in the Maryland State Senate.

Facing hostile neighbors, Israel must remain strong

In the column "No need for aid sought by Israelis," Sunni M. Khalid objects to the military aid component of a peace pact between Israel and Syria.

But Israel's military edge serves to deter Arab attacks. Israel is under no delusion that it can trust the Arabs not to attack. Even now, neither Syrian President Hafez el Assad nor Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has evidenced peaceful intentions toward Israel.

Mr. Assad won't even meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and he demands the return of the Golan Heights before discussing security arrangements.

Mr. Arafat has bestowed a Palestine Prize upon Abu Doaud, the terrorist who masterminded the slaughter of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972, while he hoodwinks the world into believing the PLO charter calling for Israel's extinction has been rescinded.

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