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Letters to the Editor 3/23

March 22, 2001

Letters to the Editor 3/23



Does this tax cut sound fair?



To the editor:

I have been studying to be a Math teacher at HCC and now Mount Saint Mary's College so I have become keenly aware of math literacy issues lately.

I am very happy to see that Washington County middle schools are top ranked in the state on the MSPAP test. I have looked at sample versions of this test and I would bet most high school graduates in America would struggle with the middle school test.

It not only tests how to do math, but what the answer means. This brings me to the point of my letter. I was reading the Washington Post today and it included President Bush's budget proposal for next year. As we all know, the president is also proposing a $1.6 trillion dollar tax cut spread over 10 years. That is $160 billion dollars per year for 10 years. President Bush's entire education budget is only $76.2 billion.

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Most Washington County middle schoolers could tell you that the tax cut is more than twice as big as the education budget. Is education really a priority? I also did some math concerning how the tax cut would be distributed. The president's "fair" tax cut will give everyone a 3 percent rate cut.

I compared Bill Gates the billionaire, a millionaire and a new teacher in Washington County to see how the cut would be distributed. The teacher, with an income of $30,000 dollars, would get a $900 tax cut. A person with $1 million dollars of taxable income will receive a $30,000 tax cut. (Gee, that's about what the teacher's income is.) Bill Gates will receive a $30 million tax break for every billion of income (That's 1,000 teachers' salaries). That seems fair to me, how about you?

Joe Lane

Smithsburg

Drug relief for seniors



To the editor:

State governments across the country are grappling with the broad issue of rising pharmaceutical costs and prices, most notably for seniors. Maryland is no exception.

According to the Maryland Health Care commission, spending on prescription drugs in Maryland increased by 22.2 percent in 1999. More than one-third of Maryland's Medicare enrollees have incomes below $23,000 for a couple, making the increased cost of prescription drugs even more burdensome for our seniors.

The existing Maryland Pharmacy Assistance Program provides necessary drugs for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid and make less than $14,000 per year for a family of two. Clearly, this program leaves out many seniors and low and middle income individuals who struggle daily with the cost of their life sustaining prescription drugs.

In the absence of meaningful federal action, our state must take steps to increase access to prescription drugs. One initiative that I have co-sponsored is a program that creates a pharmacy discount program similar to an approach taken by Vermont. This program expands Medicaid eligibility for the purpose of extending prescription drug coverage to seniors and low income residents. This program has already been implemented in Vermont and participants receive approximately 30 percent off the retail price of prescription drugs with no cost to the state.

We are already fortunate in Western Maryland to have one of only two programs in the state that accesses medically necessary prescription drugs through patient assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical drug manufacturers.

The Western Maryland Prescription Program is projected to bring in over $2.8 million in free drugs for low income residents. I strongly support proposals that will offer this program statewide. The Western Maryland Prescription Program improves the heath status of low income individuals in our community, and all Maryland's should be able to benefit from such an initiative.

As the Chairman of the Health Care Subcommittee in the House of Delegates, I am committed to enacting meaningful prescription drug relief for seniors in our state and these two programs together take an important step toward achieving this goal.

John P. Donoghue

District 2C

Hagerstown

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