State hospital rates have not kept pace with increasing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 28, 2001

State hospital rates have not kept pace with increasing costs

A rebuttal by the state hospital regulatory commission to a recent column by Barry Rascovar ("State can't afford prescription drugs," Opinion

Commentary, March 25) left readers with the wrong impression ("Hospital rates reflect state's careful formula," letters, April 14).

In recent years, Maryland hospital rates -- set by state regulations -- have not kept pace with inflation. The cost of salaries to recruit and retain a qualified workforce, investments in patient-safety initiatives and keeping up with new technologies and life-saving drugs has risen much more rapidly than the rates have.

That has spurred rounds of cost-cutting, resulting in reduced staffing and cutbacks in programs and services.

Even so, Maryland hospitals are still being squeezed so hard that 40 percent lost money last year. Hospital margins have dropped for five consecutive years and are now at their lowest level in a decade -- substantially below the level regulators have set as an acceptable minimum.

Hospitals simply cannot continue to deliver the quality of care Marylanders expect and deserve without receiving rates that cover the cost of the care they deliver.

We are at the point where squeezing too hard prompts compromises in health care quality and community access.

Cal Pierson, Elkridge

The writer is president of the Association of Maryland Hospitals and Health Systems.

Captured Navy personnel deserve public's gratitude

I wonder why Gordon Livingston bemoans the adulation that our country gave to the Navy airmen and women coming back from China ("Why do we make heroes of people doing their jobs?" Opinion

Commentary, April 19). I don't understand his callousness toward them.

I, for one, don't believe they were just "doing their jobs." To be captured in a foreign country and held hostage is not what anyone would expect, whether one is in the military or visiting a foreign country.

Yes, they were held for a short time, but that doesn't diminish my gratitude to those servicemen and women for serving their country under those circumstances.

Pat Howell, Columbia

After reading, "Why do we make heroes of people doing their jobs" I feel compelled to say, "Thank God, we make heroes of people just doing their jobs."

Far too much attention is given to the activities of people who break the law, by abuse, killings or threats of such actions -- on TV, in the papers or on the radio.

I say, God bless those Navy personnel for being there, at a time and place when they were needed.

Yes, indeed, they were just doing their jobs. Let's praise them for having the courage to do it.

Marge Griffith, Pasadena

Black families don't need stigma Black Panthers bring

I really got my dander up when I read the article "The new voice of black power" (April 22). All I can say is that the Black Panther movement in this country should be outlawed. The Black Panthers are no better or different than the Ku Klux Klan and should be treated the same way.

The Black Panthers are a blight on progress in this country and an anchor around the necks of law-abiding, hardworking black families.

These families don't need the stigma of the Panthers and their wild belief that this country should give black citizens a large piece of property so they can form their own government.

If members of the Black Panthers don't like it here, I suggest they return to the land of their forefathers.

John Thomas, Catonsville

Televised executions are step backward to barbarism

Mike Lane, with whom I usually disagree heartily, hit the nail on the head with his April 16 editorial cartoon on Timothy McVeigh's execution.

I have utter compassion for the loved ones of McVeigh's victims, and utter loathing for McVeigh, but public executions went out (for the most part) with the Roman Empire.

Making them a public spectacle does the criminal no added harm and often accommodates his or her desire for publicity and puts one more boulder in our path to civilization.

Spencer Gulick, Crownsville

`Doonesbury' belongs with Sun's leftist editorials

I do not understand why The Sun continues to put "Doonesbury" on the comics page. This extreme leftist strip is not comical -- and would fit perfectly on The Sun's editorial page.

Ric Campbell, Severna Park

Israel should be respected for fighting the terrorists

Beleaguered Israel, retaliating for attacks by Palestinian terrorists, finds itself in a no-win situation with regard to world opinion ("U.N. rights panel slaps Israel, lets China off," April 19).

Yet surely Israel has a right to fight back when terrorists bomb buses and lob mortar shells the residents of settlements in the occupied territories.

Surrounded by enemies who have vowed to drive it into the sea, the tiny Jewish state must maintain a costly military in a land fraught with danger.

As the sole democracy in the Middle East and America's most dependable ally in that region, Israel should command the respect and admiration of most people, instead of their condemnation.

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