Letters To The Editor


March 29, 2005

Liability crisis for Md. doctors still isn't solved

The limited news coverage in The Sun and in other local media in recent weeks about Maryland's medical liability insurance crisis might give readers the impression that it has been resolved. But that is not the case.

Legislators took a necessary first step in December by passing an emergency bill to stem the bleeding, and they recently passed corrective legislation to make changes necessary to implement the insurance subsidy fund established in the emergency bill ("House OKs bill adjusting medical malpractice law," March 24).

Physicians should begin to get some of the promised relief once this bill is signed.

However, health care providers remain troubled that the underlying causes of soaring liability insurance premiums for doctors and hospitals still haven't been fully addressed.

Physicians and hospitals need stability in their insurance premiums.

The General Assembly's approval of additional tort reforms is essential to ensure the crisis does not return.

Extending Good Samaritan Act protections to the emergency room, broadening apology protections so doctors can speak freely to injured patients and their families, structured payouts for all large awards and uniform guidelines for future economic damage awards are among the reforms now before the General Assembly.

Until they approve these reforms, legislators haven't finished the job.

Calvin M. Pierson


The writer is president of the Maryland Hospital Association.

Revealing aide's role did public a service

I do not understand why Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wants to find out if Democrats had a role in exposing Joseph F. Steffen Jr., the aide to the governor - and apparent friend of the governor's wife - who spread nasty rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley on the Internet ("Ehrlich says ex-employee working with Democrats," March 27).

What if they did?

Whoever uncovered the dirty tricks deserves our gratitude for bringing to the public's attention the Ehrlich administration's mean-spirited tactics.

Charles Rammelkamp


Judicial tyranny threatens nation

The Terri Schiavo case illustrates that our country is in a period of judicial tyranny that is destroying our culture ("For Congress, a quiet retreat from Schiavo," March 27).

Over the past half-century, the judiciary, with the stroke of a pen, has legalized the murder of the unborn through abortion; has eliminated God from our public schools; is in the process of obliterating God and religious symbols from all aspects of the public arena and of legalizing gay unions and putting them on an equal footing with the union between a man and a woman; has ruled that juveniles cannot be put to death even if they are mass murderers who show no remorse; has allowed terrorist prisoners, captured during wartime, access to our courts; and has allowed the seizure of private property in the name of protecting the environment.

Now, the courts rule that an infirm woman can be denied food and water on verbal hearsay evidence from her husband that she wanted to die.

Forget fearing that our nation will be defeated by foreign enemies. Our country is being destroyed from within by an insane, out-of-control judiciary.

John A. Malagrin


`Culture of life' code for Christian agenda

The Terri Schiavo case has been a genuine human tragedy turned into a grotesque political circus ("Residents of Florida town inundated by Schiavo saga," March 28).

It's tough enough when families disagree in court over life-and-death medical decisions, but outsiders made this case worse by politicizing it.

First, the right-to-life lobby, then the Florida Legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush intervened on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo's parents. When that failed, Congress intervened, with President Bush's support.

None of these outsiders should have been involved. Government should stay out of our bedrooms and our hospital rooms.

The most dangerous part of this story is President Bush endorsing "a culture of life."

This is political code for saying that Christian religious doctrine should trump state courts, federal courts and all other moral or religious beliefs.

Richard L. Ottenheimer


Congress cares little for the Constitution

I have been scandalized by the behavior of Congress in the Terri Schiavo case ("For Congress, a quiet retreat from Schiavo," March 27).

The Constitution does not give any branch of the federal government the right to intervene in individual medical decisions, and it explicitly states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Congress had no right to intervene, or to tell the federal courts to intervene. Yet it attempted to do so.

Our representatives, who swore to uphold the Constitution, appear not even to know what it says, much less to care.

To any honest patriot, this is more deeply offensive than words can express.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam


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