Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 04, 2006

Falling doctor pay could cause crisis

I applaud Jay Hancock's insightful column on the problem of falling income for physicians ("Stagnant doctor pay unhealthy for us, too," Aug. 27). Physicians' incomes are declining both in absolute terms and, even more drastically, with respect to inflation.

However, the column fails to see the existence of a health care crisis that will rapidly worsen in the coming years.

Physicians, especially new ones, are a very mobile group. Upon graduation, debt-laden new doctors interview across the United States and join practices that provide remuneration to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, because of a near-monopoly in Maryland's malpractice insurance industry and our lack of meaningful tort reform, this state is not an attractive place to practice.

Maryland ranks in the bottom 25 percent of U.S. states in overall physician reimbursement, even though it has a relatively high cost of practice and cost of living.

Maryland hospitals and physician groups are competing with the rest of the United States for a shrinking pool of qualified physicians, and they're losing. The state faces critical physician shortages in anesthesiology, obstetrics, surgery and emergency medicine.

The Maryland legislature needs to act now to protect its constituents.

Otherwise, with projected cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates of more than 25 percent over the next four years ("Medicare cuts for doctors proposed," Aug. 9), Maryland's physician shortage is likely to get worse and the poor and the elderly will be the first to feel its bite, as fewer and fewer physicians will be able to afford to care for them.

We risk returning to a system where the wealthy and well-insured get care and the uninsured and underinsured are forced to wait hours or days to be seen at free clinics.

It takes seven to 15 years to train a new doctor after he or she graduates from college.

This extremely long lag time makes it critical that we plan ahead if Maryland's health care system is to remain viable.

Dr. Jeremy Roth

Lutherville

Will Iraqis decide our troop timetable?

I found it incredible to read that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said, "In fact, the future coalition presence, 12 to 18 months from now - is going to be decided by the Iraqi government" ("Iraq at least a year from handover," Aug. 31).

That's great - we're approaching 2,700 U.S. military deaths in this occupation of Iraq and we will be able to leave when the Iraqis allow us?

Three, five or 10 years from now?

Boy, that will really require "staying the course."

John L. Warthen

Catonsville

Use railroad theme for art at station

I have avidly followed the debate over placing the enormous "Male/Female" sculpture in front of Penn Station, which is, after all, a locus of railroad activity ("Art scrape," editorial, Aug. 28).

I wonder whether the Municipal Art Society ever considered placing a railroad-themed work of art where "Male/Female" now stands.

It seems to me that the site would be much more appropriate for the placement of a stylized rendition of a locomotive or an actual retired locomotive, particularly an old Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotive.

For many years, GG1s passed through the station on a daily basis. More than a few people consider these graceful Raymond Loewy-designed beauties to be works of art.

As for "Male/Female," I believe that it has absolutely no relevance to the site and should be removed.

If such a belief makes me a philistine, then so be it.

John R. Yates

Baltimore

Easements can save historic properties

Thank you to Jill Rosen for shining a light on the risk faced by so many historic Baltimore buildings that are not as well protected as they may seem ("Going, Going, Gone?" Aug. 27).

The plight of the Rochambeau is consistent with trends in cities nationwide.

National Register historic districts, urban renewal zones and local historic designations are all critical to protecting our architectural heritage. But, unfortunately, they are only a patchwork.

It's all too common for buildings essential to the character of a neighborhood to be demolished, even though preservation-minded members of the community believe they are protected.

For property owners, donating a historic preservation easement is the best way to ensure a property is protected, now and in the future.

In fact, federal law encourages it. A U.S. government program provides tax incentives to owners of buildings of historical significance and those contributing to historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places who make such donations.

The U.S. Congress recently passed legislation reaffirming its support for the program, and any property owner concerned about preservation should consider participating.

Steve McClain

Washington

The writer is president of the National Architectural Trust.

Church disregards needs of neighbors

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