Letters To The Editor


July 16, 2006

Medicaid mandate cuts access to care

As of July 1, a misguided new federal mandate requires most U.S.-born Medicaid recipients to prove citizenship as a condition of receiving benefits ("Too simple to work," editorial, July 11). This policy may affect more than 550,000 lower-income Marylanders.

While the rule's purported objective is to stop waste and fraud, the predictable effect will be to hassle deserving low-income families in ways that will cause many of them to drop from the rolls of those with health coverage and waste taxpayers' money administering the new requirement.

During the last seven years, a broad coalition of Maryland government, business and nonprofit leaders has been working to ensure that children and pregnant women have access to health care.

As a result, more than 150,000 additional women and children have been enrolled into health programs that have been supported by Republican and Democratic leaders alike.

However, this proof-of-citizenship requirement presents a real threat to health care enrollment. And indeed, the rationale behind the new requirement is flawed to begin with.

The Congressional Budget Office found little or no evidence that undocumented immigrants are fraudulently receiving Medicaid benefits. Furthermore, because immigrants must provide documentation of their citizenship status to enroll in Medicaid, they may be the group least affected by the requirements.

It makes no sense to rush to implement a federal policy that will do little to prevent "fraud and abuse" and will do much to deny or delay appropriate access to health benefits.

Maryland is right to delay the implementation of this administrative nightmare until the federal government addresses the host of inconsistencies its guidelines raise.

Jann Jackson


The writer is executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

Politicians prompt BGE's credit crunch

An inevitable effect of the legislature's intervention in the business affairs of a private company, Moody's Investors Service's reduction of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s credit rating represents the next chapter in the sad saga that is this year's Maryland political scene ("Moody's cuts BGE debt rating," July 12).

What legislators wanted most out of the special session was to throw out the rate plan negotiated by the governor and reformulate it in any way possible that would strip him of any credit, and to fire the members of the Public Service Commission, which the politicians made the whipping boy for their own mistake in passing the deregulation bill in 1999.

The legislature was successful in both goals.

The problem now is that Moody's, which is not particularly concerned with the political fortunes of either candidate in our gubernatorial contest, has reasoned that life is uncertain indeed for a public utility operating in a state whose legislature feels comfortable changing the rules as it goes along for raw political considerations.

Of course, it is Maryland ratepayers who will foot the bill.

Bill Reid

North East

Lovers of dogs say `no' to wearing fur

It's no small irony that an attendee of the trappers convention in La Plata doted over his diabetic dog and reported spending "a lot of money to make her feel better" ("Let the fur fly," July 12).

After all, fur trappers usually make animals feel worse - by setting traps to smash their paws, crush their backs or hold them underwater, struggling and desperate, until they drown.

While foxes and coyotes are the most common canines to get such treatment from fur trappers, countless domesticated dogs are also caught each year in indiscriminate traps in Maryland and elsewhere.

People who care about dogs should not support fur trapping or wear fur or fur trim.

Pierre Grzybowski


The writer is deputy manager of the fur campaign for the Humane Society of the United States.

Let lawsuits challenge president's practices

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan's justification of the FBI raid of the office of Rep. William J. Jefferson ("Federal judge upholds raid by FBI on lawmaker's office," July 11) could be applied to the National Security Agency's assumption that it is too secret to be sued ("NSA says it's too secret to be sued," July 11).

Judge Hogan said, "Congressmen Jefferson's interpretation of the Speech or Debate privilege would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime."

The Bush administration has repeatedly used the assertion of similar privileges to shield itself from legitimate challenges.

At a time when there is no reason to give this government the benefit of the doubt, lawsuits challenging the administration must be allowed.

If they are not, we will be left with a public that is powerless to protect itself.

Mike Silverberg


Blame Bush-bashers if we lose this war

Thomas Sowell's column "Media mistreat American troops" (Opinion

Commentary, July 13) summed matters up perfectly.

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