Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

August 06, 2005

Cutting care for immigrants is no bargain

Thankfully, Maryland's legislators "get it" even if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. doesn't ("Legislators warn of care cuts' impact," July 27).

Mr. Ehrlich is allowing low-income, pregnant legal immigrants to continue to receive prenatal care if they were in the Medicaid program prior to July 1. Any other legal immigrant pregnant woman is out of luck. So is her baby (who will be a U.S. citizen), and so are any of her older children.

The medical journals are filled with pages documenting the cost-effectiveness, the savings and the alleviation of suffering that prenatal care and well-child care (including immunizations) provide.

Every $1 spent on prenatal care results in savings of $3.33 and $4.63 in long-term costs, and every $1 spent on immunizations saves more than $6 - and more than $18 if you factor in societal costs.

Every other industrialized nation recognizes the savings from well-child care and prenatal care, and any doctor or nurse will tell you that prenatal care and well-child care are the best value for the health care dollar.

Maryland is the fifth-wealthiest state in the United States, yet the governor submitted a budget that cuts 4,000 children and pregnant women out of Medicaid coverage.

It is not that the children won't get sick or that the pregnant moms will somehow not deliver. Those pregnant women will deliver and those sick children will get their ear infections addressed in the emergency room, our most expensive venue.

All Maryland citizens will pay for that expensive, uncompensated care, which will show up as higher health insurance rates.

Maryland's most important resource is its children, and all our children need and deserve to be a priority for Maryland.

Perhaps a sports metaphor can best deliver the message to this governor: With a $1 billion surplus, cutting health care to pregnant women and children is "unnecessary roughness."

Bobbi Seabolt

Lutherville

Transit bill neglects needs of MARC train

Here we go again. Congress finally (after a couple of years' debate) passes another pork-laden highway bill on top of the misguided, fully porked energy bill and the end result will do little to address the massive congestion, pollution or car gas efficiency standards ("Congress OKs energy, transit bills," July 30).

As a regular rider of the MARC train system (Penn Line), I was aghast to see no mention of funding for the MARC train systems in The Sun's articles on the transit bill - not a single reference.

Having been a rider of MARC for the past six years, I recognize that this system's quality and maintenance are an afterthought not only for our elected leaders but also for the leadership of the state's mass transit systems. Blame for this should be shared on both sides of the aisle in Annapolis.

The MARC system is in shambles: Many of the engines are more than 20 years old. The breakdowns are legendary, the trains are filthy, the older cars offer no seat support, the heating and cooling systems fail frequently, many of the stations are crumbling and, lest we forget, many of the conductors could use training in customer service principles.

Whoever has responsibility or the stomach for reporting these deplorable conditions to state leadership, please, please get engaged and help the riders who are doing their best to alleviate congestion and pollution on our highways.

Alex Wolfe

Catonsville

Stem-cell research may preserve lives

After reading "Frist's reversal boosts hopes for revised stem-cell policy" (July 30) several points stuck out to me as being conveniently overlooked by the opponents of the bill.

Opponents argue that the viability of stem-cell research has yet to be proven.

I ask: Without funding, how are scientists expected to prove anything?

It is by providing funding that we will be able to learn whether this method will be the huge lifesaver many of us sincerely hope it will be.

What scientific breakthrough in the past has been "proved" without monetary support to back its exploration?

Moreover, the article quotes a White House spokesman as saying President Bush "does not believe we should be using taxpayer dollars to support the further destruction of human life" and that "we shouldn't be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it."

Am I the only one concerned that our president is using clichM-is to govern the nation?

And if Mr. Bush truly felt this strongly about not "creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it," he would have to close all fertility clinics, or ban them from fertilizing multiple embryos for possible implantation into hopeful potential mothers.

For, really, all Mr. Frist is endorsing is using those extra fertilized embryos - the ones not needed by the couples who have successfully become pregnant - for research, as opposed to throwing them away.

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