- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

Finding a third way in cancer treatment

A recent column (“Fixing a Medicare muddle,” Commentary, Saturday) outlined concerns about the reimbursement formula for cancer medications under the Medicare legislation. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) shares these concerns about reduced reimbursements for cancer medications but does not advocate a return to the average wholesale price reimbursement system for drugs, through which doctors were overpaid for chemotherapy and underreimbursed for other essential patient services.

In fact, for more than 10 years, ASCO has stated that Medicare’s reimbursement system for cancer treatment was illogical and needed to be revised to adequately reflect the actual costs of cancer treatment delivery.

ASCO endorsed reform of this broken system and does not seek to reverse the legislation. We are concerned that the statute provided only a one-year transition payment, while congressionally mandated studies of the new system’s feasibility are not due until 2006 or later. ASCO simply asks for an interim solution that would continue transition payments until the facts are in.

Cancer is a complex disease to treat, requiring highly specialized doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychosocial support, nutrition counseling, equipment and supplies. The Medicare legislation as it stands, however, may result in a significant cut in coverage of these patient services in 2005 and beyond.

People with cancer need access to high-quality cancer care, and maintaining that access to care is ASCO’s highest priority. We will work with Congress to ensure that all cancer patients receive the treatment they need to fight this dread disease.

MARGARET TEMPERO

President

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Alexandria

At BYU, honor trumps all

While I am appalled at the depths to which higher education has sunk in coddling student athletes and luring them to play, there was one gross error in Steve Wilstein’s article “Many schools use sex as a vehicle” (Sports, Sunday).

The article reports that a sex crime occurred in January at a late-night party for Brigham Young University recruits in a house shared by three football players. The error is found in the statement, “No charges were filed.” This would infer that people at Brigham Young University, a private university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are not above the types of activities mentioned in the rest of Mr. Wilstein’s article. In fact, it was a BYU football coach who called the police and reported the incident, which is still under investigation. In addition to any criminal penalties, all parties involved face disciplinary action by BYU. The university’s honor code forbids premarital and extramarital sex. If the BYU Honor Code Office concludes its rules were broken, the students could face probation, suspension or even expulsion. BYU has never hesitated to enforce this code against any student, no matter how valuable to a sports team.

STEVEN J. HOVEY

Woodbridge, Va

Winter warrior, sunshine senator

Nine months ahead of the general election, Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry already has set new standards for disingenuousness, hypocrisy and chutzpah.

During his 20-plus years as a senator from the state of Massachusetts, Mr. Kerry has compiled one of the most liberal voting records of anyone in Washington and has been reflexively hostile to our intelligence services and national defense. Over the course of his Washington career, Mr. Kerry has opposed the Patriot Missile, the Abrams tank, the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the Trident submarine, the Apache helicopter, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile and virtually every other weapons program that enabled us to win theColdWar,thewarin Afghanistan and two wars against Iraq. He opposed placement of American missiles in Western Europe that proved key to defeating Soviet expansionism, and he supported a nuclear freeze movement that would have left the Soviets in a permanent position of nuclear superiority in the European theater. He repeatedly advocated not just cuts in our intelligence capabilities, but the abolition of the CIA. He even opposed the death penalty for terrorists and voted against providing the material support required by our troops to win a war in Iraq he voted to authorize — a vote he has since repudiated in order to win over the antiwar legions of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Now, Mr. Kerry in effect wants that entire public voting record placed off limits because he served in Vietnam (“Bush team rejects Kerry claim,” Nation, Monday). In fact, Mr. Kerry, who looked on approvingly and fed the fire as his minions launched a genuinely slanderous attack on President Bush’s honorable and hazardous service as a fighter jet pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, is personally accusing the president of dirty politics for daring to make his very public and well-established anti-defense and anti-intelligence record an issue in the campaign.

This is the same John Kerry who denounced fellow Vietnam veteran Bob Kerrey for making Bill Clinton’s overt draft-dodging an issue in the 1992 Democratic campaign. It is the same John Kerry who broad-brushed his fellow Vietnam veterans as murderers and war criminals during his days as a leftist demonstrator in the ‘70s. The North Vietnamese even used his vile testimony in their attempts to demoralize American prisoners of war. Now he wants to use his veteran status and the presence of a “band of brothers” he once criticized to shield himself against inspection of his sorry public record.

No one questions Mr. Kerry’s own military service. What can and should be questioned is the lack of judgment and weak national security posture he has demonstrated since returning from that war. George McGovern was a legitimate war hero whose political positions would have spelled disaster for this country as president. Jimmy Carter was an exemplary naval officer aboard a nuclear submarine whose policies as president were so disastrous that it took the combined efforts of two successors more than 12 years to repair.

John Kerry, war hero and anti-defense radical, falls neatly into that McGovern-Carter tradition. It is understandable that he is sensitive about his record. It would be a disservice to this nation if voters were not well aware of his positions before they cast their votes.

MIKE REEDER

Boerne, Texas

Capitalism and (Microsoft’s) freedom

According to Kenneth W. Starr in his Feb. 19 Op-Ed column, “A stitch in crime,” the Microsoft antitrust settlement contains loopholes that allow Microsoft to avoid competing in the marketplace on the merits. Yet rather than attack Microsoft, perhaps Mr. Starr should reorient his gaze to the antitrust laws themselves.

Under the antitrust laws, the government has penalized Microsoft for improving its products, controlling the terms of sale of its own property and earning the loyalty of millions of its customers. In a free market, Microsoft’s achievements would be held up as a model of how to create and maintain a highly productive, innovative company. Yet under antitrust laws, these same achievements are criminal.

Never mind that, unlike a government regulator, Microsoft cannot outlaw the competition. Never mind that the only real barriers to competition with Microsoft are technical and business acumen. Under the antitrust laws, Microsoft, by virtue of its success, is a coercive threat to the unsuccessful. The gauge of Microsoft’s compliance with the law is how much its competitors are gaining at Microsoft’s expense.

It should be obvious that a standard that demands that a company sacrifice itself to its competitors is unjust. Yet, never in the history of the Microsoft antitrust case has there been a loud call for a re-examination of antitrust law itself. Government and industry antitrust attorneys have pored over tens of thousands of documents, looking for instances of Microsoft’s transgressions. They have missed the transgressions of a government that criminalizes ordinary business behavior in the name of protecting the marketplace.

NICHOLAS PROVENZO

Chairman

Center for the Advancement of Capitalism

Alexandria, Va.

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