More facts are needed for real debate on health care...

LETTERS

January 30, 2000

More facts are needed for real debate on health care

Your editorial "Harry and Louise return" (Jan. 23) says that "President Clinton unveiled his $110-billion plan to provide health care insurance for about 5 million uninsured Americans." That comes to a whopping $22,000 per person.What an expensive annual health insurance premium!

We need more tangible facts, as you point out in your editorial. We also need sanity checks on the numbers discussed.

In the same paper is an article titled "Clinton urges Congress to help fight Medicare fraud. " What, may I ask, is the greater fraud -- squandering $22,000 per person or trying to look like a tough, fiscally responsible president? It is truly scandalous that our country cannot conduct a factual, systematic discussion of health care.

As for Medicare fraud, how much supposed fraud is due to erroneous filing and malfunctioning software? I have seen more than my share in seven months of retirement. One company even filed a "routine mammogram" for my wife in my name.

I have also spent many hours fighting benefits providers over software problems that cancelled my insurance and assigned me the wrong policy.

Consequently, I have twice had my insurance card from Blue Cross delayed by nearly two months. It took nine months to clean up the mess.

What we really need to control costs and expose fraud is a consistent set of software interface standards between all parties involved

This is one place where the federal government can provide a real service to all the citizens.

Richard Jendrek

Severna Park

Involved parents needed to raise achievers

I have completed reading Norris West's column ("Annapolis' future starts with education," Jan 23).

It seems to me that one who is supposed to be an expert on the Annapolis scene would know that a student at the Unfted States Naval Academy in Annapolis is a Midshipman, not a Cadet. They stop wearing white uniforms in October, so Mr. West must not have been in town lately It appears to me that Mr. West was trying to finally point out in his column that the future of Annapolis lies in educating its children, which is certainly very true.

Like all of those who believe that d takes a village to raise children, he seems to miss an historical fact. When our schools were excellent in the past and where they are excellent now, it is not the village that is making them excellent: It is who take an interest in their children's education from the time they start school until they are finally as far along as they can realistically reach.

If you want an example of this, look at the schools that have reached the levels that the State of Maryland requires. In each of them, you will find a high level of parental involvement, not only at school, but also, at home.

If more parents would take responsibility for their children instead of "dropping them off' at school, we would find that the schools would improve and so would our community.

So maybe our problem is not so much education, as it is the lack of family. The next time there is a gathering and panel discussion, why not make that a part of the agenda?

Bill Mitchell

Millersville

Remove the profit and you can end drug war

As a 30-year admirer of The Sun's OpinionCommentary page, I was horrified to read editorial, "Crackdown on drugs will curb killings" (Jan. 22). Although the war on drugs has failed, you support this policy disaster and call for a crackdown that will make the drug trade yet more profitable.

Let's face it, every time we ratchet up the war on drugs, we make the narcotics trade a more dangerous and incredibly profitable industry. How is a kid going to "just say no" when he or she can make hundreds of dollars a week selling them? After all, look at the risk of criminal prosecution and punishment for the dealer and supplier. It must be compensated handsomely.

And how can you prevent dealers from looking for more customers, i.e., our kids, when they get so rich doing it? Does the danger of prohibited (cool) activity dissuade teenagers?

You were young once. And is there a legal way for addicts to get enough money to support their expensive purchases?

After graduating from medical school, I spent six years in surgical training in the South Bronx, the heart of the "heroin belt." Our patients taught us that the unrelenting requirement for money for their expensive needs was at the heart of the violence that resulted in their need for surgical care. Bullet wounds galore. It occurred to me back then, that decriminalization of drugs would cut way back on our number of operations. So maybe we should keep drugs illegal and expensive for the sake of educational surgical case material!

For average law abiding citizens, the two main dangers of the illegal drug trade are: (1) the risk of being a victim of violent crime, and (2) the profit motivation to entice our kids.

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