Big bonuses suggest CareFirst sale serves only its...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 15, 2002

Big bonuses suggest CareFirst sale serves only its management

Over the past year, as the proposed conversion of CareFirst to a for-profit corporation and subsequent sale to WellPoint Health Networks Inc. has unfolded, we have received repeated assurances by the executives of CareFirst as well as their advisors and consultants that the deal was in the best interest of the citizens of Maryland and that the financial terms were fair.

The party line was simple - the conversion and sale would benefit the public by making CareFirst a stronger and more responsive competitor. And we were told repeatedly that personal financial gain by CareFirst executives was no part of the equation driving this deal.

Only after CareFirst filed prepared testimony and exhibits with state Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen's office do we learn the truth: There will be substantial, some would say unconscionable, cash bonuses paid to 74 CareFirst executives and managers ("Executives due $33 million with CareFirst sale," March 8).

What is worse is that these bonuses appear to be payable regardless of whether the proposed conversion and sale is successful or not. This clearly represents a win-win situation for the CareFirst executives and managers and a no-win situation for the group this deal is supposed to benefit - the citizens of Maryland.

CareFirst should recognize it has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar, abandon this deal and revert to its legitimate role - serving the citizens of Maryland as a nonprofit insurer.

Raymond J. Brusca

Towson

The writer is vice president of benefits for the Black & Decker Corp. and a member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

I understand why William L. Jews and friends want to sell CareFirst to WellPoint, but what do we, the policy-holding "owners" of the company, receive?

Why do I get the feeling this is leading to yet another drain on the pocketbooks of us customers as "our management" enriches itself?

James M. Dunn III

Baltimore

In light of recent developments, CareFirst should consider changing its name to CareNot.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Underscore the value of marriage, every day

Leonard Pitts' column on the indispensable value of marriage to society should be written in bold capitals every day on the front page of The Sun ("Why not promote marriage?" Opinion * Commentary, March 11).

It is the pure truth, simply spoken.

Mr. Pitts sees the weakening of the institution of marriage as the origin of so many of our social pathologies, and supports President Bush's plan to promote healthy marriages.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt

Baltimore

Wedlock isn't the key to escaping poverty

If President Bush wants to truly make an impact on poverty in the United States, he should refrain from interfering in martial matters and focus on education and jobs ("Bush proposes tightening Clinton's welfare reforms," Feb. 27). Marriage is not the solution to preventing poverty.

Mr. Bush would be better advised to deal with economic growth if he wants to impact families positively.

Without a meaningful education, many former welfare recipients will be employed in low-wage jobs once they are off the rolls. In fact, 55 percent of Americans who left welfare rolls in 1997 were still living below the poverty level three years later.

The key to economic advancement is education, not a wedding band.

Yet Mr. Bush proposes to use $300 million for unproven programs that aim to get poor couples with children to marry.

Let's use this money in ways that help people deal with issues that prevent them from succeeding in the workplace, such as for child care, job readiness programs and transportation.

Iris Mabry

Baltimore

Life imprisonment too lenient for Yates

For once, justice has been served ("Yates guilty in drowning of her children," March 13).

Andrea Yates murdered her five children, and she should suffer the same fate as her babies. Life imprisonment is too lenient. A lethal injection is too human.

Let's try to drown her five times and on the sixth attempt be successful.

S.M. Wunder

Timonium

FBI should aid the man its agent mistakenly shot

Whether it was a "tragic coincidence" or not, what happened to Joseph Charles Schultz will stay with him a long time, if not forever ("Tragic coincidences cited in FBI shooting," March 8).

If the FBI is truly sorry for its mistake, it should be willing to cover the Schultz family's medical expenses.

Reconstructive surgeries are a necessity in this case, not a luxury - and the FBI should be interested in aiding that effort. It's the least the FBI can do.

Angie Engles

Columbia

Making fun of farmers is simply offensive

I am quite offended by the less-than-positive opinion Kevin Cowherd seems to have of the farmers who feed him ("New farm tags don't exactly say `Maryland,'" March 7).

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