Readers Respond

December 22, 2009

Obama health care reform plan is un-American

President Barack Obama and his administration have urged Congress to pass health care reform before the end of this calendar year. My opinion is that the actions of the Democrats have been un-American, unconstitutional and unthinkable. They are taking away our freedom by forcing all to pay for health insurance. This, at the expense of taking from those who earn more (or earn something at all) to give to those who don't. I am all for everyone having fairly priced health insurance coverage, and I am very much in favor of giving to those in need. However it appears obvious that Democrats are willing to mortgage our capitalistic future to take a large step toward nationalization.

I work in the health care field and have not treated one patient in favor of nationalized health care. I have yet to meet one person who is in favor of ballooning our national debt so this administration can make political history. This bill has less to do with the needs of Americans than with political prowess. Furthermore, I have spoken to dozens of other health care professionals who are considering leaving the health care field completely should this bill pass. I am afraid that if this bill passes, we as Americans will suffer global embarrassment and financial ruin as a result. How is that for political history?

Lawrence Saez, Bel Air

GOP digs its political grave

The Republicans' worst nightmare will now happen. The health care bill will be wildly popular with the American public, as were Social Security and Medicare, also opposed by the Republican Party with horror stories about what would happen if they passed. And like Franklin D. Roosevelt after passage of Social Security, President Obama has now assured himself reelection.

Jack Kinstlinger, Baltimore

Md. can't afford reform bill

If President Obama's health care reform bill should become law, states will have to fund huge increases in the Medicaid costs, since the bill increases the number of Medicaid patients but does not cover all of the cost to states. These costs will be $100 million or more. Where will Maryland find that amount of money, considering the state is already in the red?

Edward B. Boyle

Md. doesn't need tort reform

This week the Baltimore Business Journal published a list entitled "Highest Paying Occupations in Maryland," ranking Maryland employees by average annual salary in 2008 based upon data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interestingly, nine of the top 10 positions are held by health care providers: (1) anesthesiologist; (2) obstetrician; (3) orthodontist; (4) oral and maxillofacial surgeon; (5) internist, general; (7) family and general practitioner; (8) dentist, general; (9) podiatrist; and (10) physician and surgeon, other. The only non-health-care-provider occupation among the top 10 is chief executive officer at No. 6.

During the current debate regarding government intervention in the health care insurance industry, Maryland health care providers have repeatedly cried for more tort reform to protect them from the cost of malpractice insurance. But those who earn more than virtually any other professionals in the state certainly do not deserve any further economic protection. In fact, the Journal's list makes it clear that existing Maryland medical malpractice reform - such as caps on damages - went too far and resulted in nothing more than lining the pockets of health care providers at the expense of victims of serious medical mistakes. Imagine what the public would say if the lawyers, who rank No. 13 on the list, now sought help from the legislature to increase their incomes.

Andrew G. Slutkin, BaltimoreThe writer is a partner in the law firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White.

We must send more than troops to Afghanistan

President Obama is right to commit more troops to Afghanistan ("'Our security at stake,' Obama declares, ordering 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan," Dec. 1). Now is no time for half-measures if we want to succeed in routing the Taliban and denying the terrorists there a safe training ground.

But sending more troops is not enough; we also need to provide them with the next-generation technology that will help them find the insurgents and beat them on their home turf. Today, most troops are still using legacy radios, vehicles and technology that are holdovers from the Cold War, which can't give soldiers a birds-eye view of the battlefield and can't share information.

That's why the Pentagon needs to fast-track Army modernization efforts, especially new networking and communications technologies that taxpayers have already spent billions bringing to the brink of completion. In particular, the Pentagon needs to move forward on the network the Army was developing as part of the now-canceled Future Combat Systems program. While this program had a number of challenges, the next generation network that was part of it is desperately needed.

Here at home, we're rightly concerned that every school be hooked up to broadband Internet. We need to make a similar effort for our troops; after all, in Afghanistan, information is a matter of life and death, victory and defeat.

George Autobee, WashingtonThe writer is director of government affairs of the American GI Forum of the United States.

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