Letters to the editor

December 13, 2004

Action overdue on malpractice

To the editor:

It is distressing to watch Maryland's leadership deadlock on medical liability insurance reform, even as physicians continue to make career-altering decisions driven by absurdly high insurance premiums. Doctors' liability insurance premiums are due by year's end.

In too many cases premiums are so unaffordable -approaching $100,000 or more - that doctors are opting for early retirement, scaling back their care of high-risk patients, or leaving medicine - or Maryland - altogether.

Hospitals and the remaining physicians will be left to keep an already fragile delivery system intact - trying to find doctors to take high-risk patients, trying to find specialists to provide emergency room coverage, trying to find doctors who can afford to accept patients with Medicaid or with no insurance and in rural and inner-city communities trying to keep urgently-needed, hard-to-recruit obstetricians and other specialists from leaving.


The issues have been studied. The solutions are known. The task forces have made recommendations.

There's general consensus that legislative reform with short-term solutions and longer term comprehensive reforms are urgently needed.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch have the power to resolve outstanding issues now and call a special General Assembly session immediately.

Action is overdue. Yes, differences remain over a funding source for a program to temporarily control liability insurance rate hikes. There's also a need to ensure that there are enough tort reform components to offer permanent savings.

Yet politics remains the art of compromise. These leaders have years of experience in negotiating political settlements. We need a resolution to this dangerous situation before the holidays, so we can avoid further damage to Maryland's health care system.

That would be the best present the governor, Senate president and House speaker could give our state's citizens in this holiday season.

Kathy Gotwalt (on behalf of) Calvin M. Pierson and T. Michael Preston

Is Cold War really over?

To the editor:

President Vladimir Putin said Russia was willing to work with whomever is elected in Ukraine's new presidential runoff, but strongly warned the West recently not to try to force its vision of democracy on other nations.

Push to talk? Sounds like the Cold War threat is not over and our "world police" policy is really agitating the Kremlin. We are westerners, aren't we? Is our position in Iraq and the Middle East a setup for the great showdown that doomsayers call Armageddon?

Communism evidently was not a passing fad. Stalin's steel statue still stands strong in Gori. The Red Square is our thermometer. It is the war gamers' checkerboard that drives the battle for superpower dominance and the success or failure of the global war on terror. Can you hear me now?

Reginald Pugh

Renters can become owners

To the editor:

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Hagerstown's City Hall for speaking with me about the current and future issues that face our city. I appreciate all the information that I have gained about the infrastructure of the city and have learned so much about what the future holds for our great community.

During my visits to City Hall, I was able to speak to members of our city government about an issue I see as a potential crisis.

Let me first state that I believe that the growth of Washington County is vital to the economic development of Hagerstown. However, I do have a concern about the housing situation for the residents of Hagerstown.

I agree with the code enforcement that the city strongly advocates; I too believe we need to continue to promote the city as a place to buy a home and raise a family.

My concern begins with the types of developments that are now sprawling around Hagerstown. With the city annexation of developments such as those behind Wal-Mart or across from Long meadow Shopping Center, I see a real gap between homes that are affordable for current city residents and those potential residents moving in from more affluent communities.

I believe the work the Community Development office is doing is a good start. Helping families locate ownership properties within the city limits will allow some families to remain city residents at a lower cost. I also believe that we must do more to create "inclusionary zones" within existing developments located in Hagerstown.

If you are currently a resident who works in Hagerstown and are younger and potentially ready to start a family, many of these new developments may be outside of your price range, if you want to avoid financial suicide.

With "inclusionary zones" and the continuing effort of the Community Development office, renters can become homeowners and homeowners can become investors in the city of Hagerstown.

Donald L. Souders Jr.
City Council candidate

The Herald-Mail Articles