Finding the Courage to Care

Regarding the Home Forum article "The Courage to Meet Eddie," June 25: Many people share the same fear and sense of discomfort around the homeless that the author described, and we often forget that there is more to the problem of poverty than one can grasp from 30-second news clips. We have become accustomed to seeing the cardboard boxes and ragged clothes, passing the shivering bodies on the corner, and hearing the pleas of "Spare change?"

In short, we have failed to realize that beneath the stereotyped meaning of "homeless," there exist thousands of unique individuals who need as much compassion as the rest of us and who deserve the same respect. Once we become aware of this, we can begin in earnest to change the status quo and to accept the homeless into the shelter of our hearts. Andrew B. Kreider, Phoenixville, Pa. A way to contain health care costs

Regarding the article "No `Right' to Health Care," June 28: Many other nations believe that health care for their citizens is a right and have acted on that belief. In fact, nations that provide health care as a right have contained the cost of the care much more successfully than the United States.

For example, from 1960 to 1990 health expenditures as a percent of gross domestic product increased from 3.9 percent to 6.2 percent for Britain, from 4.8 percent to 8.1 percent from West Germany, and from 5.5 percent to 9.0 percent for Canada. Compare these statistics to an increase from 5.2 percent to 12.4 percent for the US.

There are no data to suggest that citizens in these other countries receive care inferior to that given here.

In fact, data for 1988 show that these nations have lower infant mortality rates and longer life expectancies.

From this, we can see that blaming the American consumer of health care for the spiraling cost of the US system is specious. A more plausible, but only partial, explanation for the spiraling cost of care is that a majority of US physicians provide care under a fee-for-service system. This provides an incentive for the physician to overtreat and to overcharge for the treatment.

A better payment system is the capitation system with salaried physicians, which eliminates the incentive to overtreat and overcharge while still safeguarding the health of the patient.

Under capitation, both the physician and the system are responsible for the care of the patient throughout the patient's lifetime. Hence, there is a strong motivation to encourage preventive care and to provide care when it is needed. Ronald Forthofer, Longmont Colo. A search for solutions

In the editorial " `Greening' of Vermont," June 29: The author quotes Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as saying, "The whole state of Vermont is under siege" from megamalls and chain discount stores that endanger "the area's beauty and serenity." Mr. Moe uses "the term `Sprawl Mart' to sum up his fears."

The fact is Wal-Mart has worked in conjunction with many communities to address local concerns and maintain the character of the town-communities like Lawrence, Kansas, where Wal-Mart just opened the first-of-its-kind environmental demonstration store to serve as a laboratory for the future design and construction of environmentally sensitive stores.

This type of cooperation between Wal-Mart and communities demonstrates, as the editorial proposed, "a legitimate way to help environmental and protection groups." Often the alarm-sounding that is recommended spreads misinformation.

Wal-Mart has demonstrated otherwise and has shown how cooperation between businesses, developers, and environmental groups can reach viable alternatives that benefit all groups. Don E. Shinkle, Bentonville, Ark. Vice President, Wal-Mart

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