Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 22, 2003

Strengthen laws limiting costs doctors confront

As the 2003 Assembly session begins, events in surrounding states ought to be a wake-up call for Maryland legislators ("W. Va. surgeons take leave to protest cost of malpractice insurance," Jan. 2).

In West Virginia and Pennsylvania, doctors and hospitals are facing gigantic increases in their malpractice premiums. Some physicians in high-risk specialties are being asked to pay as much as $300,000 a year in premiums. No wonder doctors there are giving up the practice of medicine, moving to other states or protesting by taking leaves of absence.

We in Maryland have avoided this crisis, so far, because of our strong laws that have brought stability to the Maryland medical liability insurance market. These laws have helped keep medical liability insurance premiums in check, while allowing patients harmed by negligence to recover fair awards.

If the General Assembly considers tampering with the cap on noneconomic damages or weakening other elements of Maryland's tort reforms, the results could be disastrous. Instead, state legislators should seek ways to strengthen these reforms, such as closing the loopholes that are increasingly being used to circumvent these protections.

Driving doctors out of business or forcing hospitals to curtail services are not in anyone's best interest.

Eugene Friedman

Elkridge

Dr. Catherine Smoot-Haselnus

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, chairman of the board of the Maryland Hospital Association and president of MedChi, the Maryland state medical society.

Change the regime in Washington

Our clueless leaders are now considering financing a post-invasion occupation of Iraq by appropriating that country's oil revenues and calling it "spoils of war" ("U.S. considers using Iraq's oil to pay for occupation," Jan. 10).

How medieval. While we're at it, why not steal Iraqis' wives and daughters and sell their sons into slavery?

What a pity we have to wait almost two years for a chance at a regime change where it's really needed - Washington.

J. Wistar Huey III

Ellicott City

Using any excuse to stymie Bush

Why is it that the leftist press - in this case Jules Witcover - attempts to create a mountain where there isn't even a molehill?

Mr. Witcover's "Arrogant Bush invites racial battle" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 10) rails about the renomination of a competent jurist liberals are intent on black-balling. And since the liberals can't find any real reason to oppose conservative Judge Charles Pickering, they're again playing the race card.

The Democrats are not searching for compromise or partnership, they merely want to rule. To that end they will go to any length to stymie the president's program.

But it's clear the only people making a fuss about this supposedly racial issue are a select group of Senate Democrats, professional minority rabble-rousers and editorialists and media organizations that are part of the "vast left-wing conspiracy."

W.C. Harsanyi

Pasadena

Judicial nominees push Lott's agenda

Despite the fact that Sen. Trent Lott recently put his foot in his mouth, President Bust has put his foot in a cow-pie by renominating Judge Charles Pickering and Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the federal appeals court ("Democrats threaten filibuster on judge nominee," Jan. 9).

However, Mr. Bush's actions speak louder than Mr. Lott's words. And if these two nominees reach the bench, Judge Pickering and Judge Owen will carry the Bush-Lott-Republican banner when they render judicial decisions that scale back civil rights for African-Americans.

Robert L. Reynolds

Bel Air

Accounting board abuses taxpayers

I am aghast and astounded by the size of the salaries the members of the accounting-oversight board (officially the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) voted for themselves ("Accounting-oversight board holds its first formal meeting," Jan. 11).

The arrogance displayed by the announced salaries of up to $560,000 (for the board's chairman) can be equaled only by the stupidity of the legislation that formed the bureaucracy and allowed the board to set the pay.

This is a disgrace and an insult to the taxpayers.

G. M. Naul

Chestertown

Stimulus package is just posturing

All this talk about a stimulus is only political posturing from leaders who hope people, having been fed the spin on the merits of a stimulus package, will appreciate getting some money back from the package and remember it when they vote ("Stimulating the rich," editorial, Jan. 7).

However, it's nonsense for the government to cut revenues when it knows it will have to borrow to cover the costs.

And there probably won't be a significant stimulus from more borrowing for the same reason the last tax cut failed to stop the slide. It takes time for everyone to gain the confidence to spend, hire and expand business activity.

We don't face a depression that requires a drastic measure. So why, if not political posturing, are we talking about borrowing more money?

Vince Henderson

Timonium

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