- The Washington Times - Friday, November 16, 2001

Government must invest in future of health care

The very thoughtful Metropolitan Life column written by Adrienne T. Washington notes the opinion of Dr. Gary Applebaum that many nursing facilities "are understaffed" and that they "have high turnover rates" ("Not enough money, not enough care for the elderly," Nov. 9).
Dr. Applebaum, quoted extensively throughout the column, is correct. Many facilities have vacancies, and turnover rates are too high. Because of demographic trends associated with the aging of the baby boomers (and other factors), the nationwide shortage in both licensed nurses and certified nurse assistants shows no signs of abating. A recent General Accounting Office study pointedly noted that 800,000 nurse's aide jobs would need to be filled between 1998 and 2008 just to keep pace with expected demand for care.
Finally, Dr. Applebaum notes, "The system's failure lies in its unfair reimbursement for senior care." In fact, it's more than just unfair it's irresponsible. It's hard to believe, but Medicaid which pays for two-thirds of America's 1.5 million nursing-home patients pays an average of a little more than $4 per hour, per patient. This is less than many people pay for a teen-age baby sitter. Obviously, low wages resulting from insufficient government investment in long-term care deter people from entering the nursing ranks and contribute to a high turnover rate.
Until our policy-makers grapple with the fact that our nation is increasingly underinvesting in our long-term health care system, we will continue to be plagued by many of the troubling instabilities discussed in the column.

President and chief executive officer
American Health Care Association

We shouldn't wash our hands of America's waterways

Mark Van Putten, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation, questions in a Nov. 8 letter to the editor the value of Army Corps of Engineers water projects. He suggests Congress should prioritize projects that contribute to the nation's economic well-being ("Army Corps saps taxes, ruins environment"). Congress has done exactly that: For more than 50 years, water-resources projects have been required to pass strict benefit-cost analysis before receiving congressional authorization and appropriations.
Corps of Engineers water projects are exactly the sort of investment needed in these uncertain economic times. Low-cost water transportation moves 16 percent of the nation's cargo for only 2 percent of the total transportation cost. That keeps down the costs of the basic goods that drive our economy, benefiting farming, mining and manufacturing as well as electric-power production.
Low-cost transportation is not the only benefit of water transportation. In light of concerns about energy security and congestion on our highways, investment in water-resource projects continues to be money well-spent. Barges use one-tenth the fuel needed by tractor-trailers to move the same amount of cargo; one typical barge tow moves as much cargo as 870 semitrucks.
America's waterways offer benefits that far exceed their costs. Failure to invest in this important infrastructure, as Mr. Van Putten suggests, would be a failure to provide for the nation's environmental and economic security.

National Waterways Conference

Oust the separatists from Cyprus

Ahmet Erdengiz once again misrepresents the facts in his Nov. 13 letter to the editor "EU can't admit Cyprus without consent of Turkish Cypriots."

The Republic of Cyprus will absolutely achieve acceptance into the European Union with or without the approval of Rauf Denktash, leader of the Turkish Cypriots. Despite what Mr. Erdengiz states, the government of the Republic of Cyprus is recognized throughout the world as the sole legal government of the island. The "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" exists only in the minds of Mr. Denktash, his radical followers and the government of Turkey.

Mr. Denktash's de facto Turkish puppet regime in northern Cyprus is recognized by no other governing entity in the world. There are good reasons for this.

First, the present government of the Republic of Cyprus is the original and only government of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee signed by Turkey, Greece and Great Britain.

Second, the 1974 invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey was against international law. The Treaty of Guarantee states that any intervention into Cyprus must be for the "sole aim" of restoring the government of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. Obviously, this was not Turkey's aim at all. Turkey's apparent aim was to conquer, occupy and ethnically cleanse the northern part of Cyprus of Greek Cypriots. They were successful.

In the findings of the European Commission on Human Rights, "Turkey intended to destroy the Greek Cypriots as an ethnic and religious group in the occupied area by deliberately inflicting on it conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction." Of killings, the commission had this to say: "The Turkish Army embarked upon a systematic course of mass murders of civilians unconnected with any war activity, including women and babies in arms, and of soldiers who had surrendered."

Rape was also part of the Turkish plan: "Turkish troops were responsible for wholesale and repeated rapes of women of all ages from 12 to 71, sometimes to such an extent that the victims suffered hemorrhages or became mental wrecks. In some areas, enforced prostitution was practiced, all women and girls of a village being collected and put into separate rooms in empty houses where they were raped repeatedly."

In addition, multiple U.N. resolutions condemn the invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus and Mr. Denktash's regime.

Finally, Mr. Denktash does not represent Turkish Cypriots who want the island unified and there are many of them. These voices are frequently silenced by Mr. Denktash's heavy-handed regime, as demonstrated by the forced closing and bombing of opposing Turkish Cypriot newspapers in recent years.

As shown in the years immediately before the 1974 invasion, Turkish and Greek Cypriots are capable of living together peacefully if instigators such as Mr. Denktash can be contained. The solution to the Cyprus problem is the reunification of the island and the expulsion of Turkish troops and Turkish settlers who were not in Cyprus before 1974.

This will benefit both ethnic groups. The Turkish Cypriots will be able to come out of the poverty they live in now and enjoy the flourishing economy presently enjoyed by the Greek Cypriots. Greek Cypriots will be able to take back land that was theirs before the 1974 invasion. Maybe with a little luck, the terms "Greek Cypriot" and "Turkish Cypriot" can eventually cease to exist and the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, both Greek and Turkish, can call themselves "Cypriots."

This, however, would be the worst nightmare of Mr. Denktash and Mr. Erdengiz.



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