- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

Nursing homes need funds

The Jan. 8 article "Report cites 'poor care' in D.C. nursing homes" falls short of addressing the real crisis in long-term care the overwhelming need for our leaders and the public to support our frail elderly, our disabled and those who care for them 24 hours a day, every day. Perhaps because none of us likes to imagine growing old or becoming disabled, we tend to think poorly of those who care for the most vulnerable among us. Because that too often is the case, we were pleased that the report issued by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton specifically ranked care in Washington's nursing homes above that of St. Louis and other comparably sized metropolitan areas.
Improving the quality of care in our nursing homes always should be a paramount objective, and Mrs. Norton can help us do that by helping pass federal legislation that not only would boost investment in our nation's Medicaid program, but also would help bring more certified nurse's aides into the health care system. The front-line nursing staff, in very short supply, performs 80 percent of the direct care for our patients. Help on the Medicaid and staffing front from our federal representatives would go a long way toward strengthening our nursing-home infrastructure.
Local government can help by working to devote resources to help us recruit, train and retain qualified caregivers. For example, Maryland recently authorized increased funding to long-term care providers so wages for caregivers could go up as much as $2 per hour. Similar measures should be taken in the District so that nurses and nurse's aides in our community can remain close to home and continue to deliver the care that our residents need and deserve.

DAVID C. BECK
Executive director
D.C. Health Care Association
Washington

Save the lynx

Reps. Richard W. Pombo and John E. Peterson should have checked their facts before choosing the Canada lynx as the latest poster child for what they believe is wrong with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) ("The lynx hoax debacle," Op-Ed, Jan. 7).
While the involvement of federal and state biologists in this matter is under investigation, the idea that this incident exemplifies "environmental activism in our government agencies," particularly during the Clinton administration, is ridiculous. To be sure, the congressmen are correct that the lynx exemplifies how the federal government, or the so-called "Washington elite," routinely flout the "rule of law" as established by Congress under the ESA, but only to show how far the federal government often will go to avoid having to protect our nation's imperiled biodiversity under the ESA.
In May 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lynx as a threatened species under the ESA. This action came, however, nearly 20 years after the service first acknowledged that the lynx possibly warranted listing under the ESA, in 1982. During three presidential administrations, Fish and Wildlife Service officials ignored the best scientific information available, including the expert opinion of their own lynx biologists that the listing was warranted, and repeatedly refused to protect the species under the ESA.
Unfortunately for the lynx, the federal government's efforts to stymie legally required and necessary legal protections for the species have continued. Despite the congressmen's ludicrous and groundless assertion that the lynx is being used by the federal government "to impose sweeping land management regulations," the reality is that very little has changed since the species was listed under the ESA. The lynx continues to be threatened with extinction by the very same factors first identified in 1982, and the federal government continues its 20-year history of refusing to comply with its legal mandate to adequately address these threats and protect this magnificent creature.

MICHAEL SENATORE
Litigation director
Defenders of Wildlife
Washington

Ban on human cloning receives broad support

The Jan. 7 front-page article "Senate to debate cloning penalties" may give readers two false impressions. First, the article does not point out that the desired benefits of research cloning (so-called "therapeutic cloning") are entirely theoretical. Even in animals, stem cells derived from an embryo (cloned or normal) have not produced cures for any diseases. Twenty years of working with mouse embryonic stem cells has cured not a single mouse. Cloning leads to genetic abnormalities and is inefficient. Cloned monkey embryos have been severely deformed, as were the human cloned embryos created by Advanced Cell Technology. Researchers admit that at best cures are not likely for at least 15 to 20 years.
Second, the article inaccurately implies that only pro-lifers support the House bill that would ban all human cloning. In fact, the House bill passed by a wide bipartisan margin of 265-162, including votes by members who have a 100 percent voting score from the National Abortion Rights Action League and are supporters of embryonic stem cell research. Even Senate advocates of stem cell research have argued that it is only ethical to use "excess" embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics and that it is wrong to create embryos for research purposes alone. Yet, with "therapeutic cloning," research is the sole purpose for which cloned embryos would be created. Senators who support embryonic stem cell research should vote for the House cloning bill. Sen. Bill Frist, a medical doctor and supporter of embryonic stem cell research, already has endorsed the ban in the House-passed bill.

REP. DAVID J. WELDON, M.D.
Washington



The front-page article "Senate to debate cloning penalties" fails to mention that embryonic stem-cell treatment is merely speculative, while stem-cell research that does not involve killing a human being is already providing cures. Stem cells from adults and umbilical cord blood are treating patients with cancer, impaired vision, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and numerous other problems. A British Medical Journal study stated there were "fewer biological problems" treating diabetes with adult stem cells than embryonic ones. "Miracle" stem cells, recently discovered, appear to migrate to and help repair damaged organs or tissues. Yet these advances receive virtually no attention because they are not controversial.
Cloning inherently treats people as "replacements" or "extras." It uses technology to manipulate and control human beings and defies the human dignity of each individual.
What patients need are cures, not scientists who push controversial and dangerous theories to get attention and funding.

WENDY WRIGHT
Director of communications
Concerned Women for America
Washington

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