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The Washington Times has the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act backward (“Dingell, Stark and Medi-scare,” Editorial, Friday).

The Medicare provisions actually extend coverage by, for example, removing cost-sharing for preventive benefits and giving Medicare more authority to cover preventive services, making it easier for low-income beneficiaries to get the help they need with their Medicare premiums and drug benefits, and reducing the cost-sharing for mental-health services.

The bill accomplishes this by reducing taxpayer money to private insurance companies — which neutral government bodies say are overpaid by, on average, 12 percent — and which recently announced record profits because of their Medicare business. Medicare dollars should go to Medicare beneficiaries, not to overpaid insurance companies.

JUDITH A. STEIN

Executive Director

Center for Medicare Advocacy Inc.

Washington

The Sirius/XM merger in perspective

The editorial in favor of the proposed merger between the nation’s two satellite-radio companies, Sirius and XM, fails to consider the context of the purportedly perilous position in which the satellite-radio firms find themselves (“Approve the Sirius/XM merger,” Editorial, Thursday).

First, both companies have been plagued by bad business, technology and management decisions. For example, Sirius began operation with only two satellites, which provided insufficient coverage, thereby requiring the deployment of terrestrial “repeater” towers allowing its signal to fill gaps. XM, which had the superior technology plan, committed various marketing errors out of the gate.

In addition, both firms allowed their automaker-partner/owners (General Motors Corp. owns 10 percent of XM) to insist on service-exclusive radios so that a Sirius radio could not receive XM’s signal. So, if you buy a BMW and you want XM (and its Major League Baseball offering) you’re in “Sirius” trouble (and stuck with Howard Stern), as only Sirius is available with that auto brand. I recall that the old NBC-owned RCA radios could receive CBS. Last but not least, who forced Sirius to pay Howard Stern $500 million over five years for his illustrious services?

Second, satellite-radio is an infant industry, only five years old. The two major satellite-TV firms — DirectTV and EchoStar — weren’t exactly scaring cable operators after five years, but they did exhibit better business practices than their satellite-radio brethren. It remains too early to throw in the towel on a competitive satellite-radio industry.

In fact, the potential market for satellite radio is huge — 200 million vehicles and 110 million households — and this excludes the mobile market, another exploding segment. At present, Sirius/XM have a combined customer-count of 14.85 million, the vast majority of which is autos. Even if their market were limited to vehicles, Sirius/XM’s current share equals a mere 7.5 percent of the potential market.

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