Merging the Blues

Re: "Pennsylvania insurance giants want to keep a secret," by staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen, last Sunday:

The headline's negative connotation about the proposed merger of Independence Blue Cross and Highmark Inc. is a far cry from the contents of the story. A Villanova professor stated that the purpose of an agreement document is not to inform the public but to ensure the parties that they are giving each other needed information. "It looks like a fairly standard merger agreement," a Temple business law professor said.

Our health and welfare fund has been dealing with Independence Blue Cross for more than 15 years. We have mutually implemented cost-containment, member-education and member-wellness programs to control premium costs. Our members feel secure that their families are protected by the Independence Blue Cross card in their pocket. In our dealings with Blue Cross they have always placed the member first.

This merger would allow the Pennsylvania Blue Cross plans to better control administrative costs by combining common departments, such as IT and claims processing. These administrative savings would allow the Pennsylvania Blue Cross plans to compete with national plans such as Aetna and United Healthcare. The merger is aimed at controlling healthcare costs for all Pennsylvania employers and employees.

Thomas J. Lamb
Administrator
Law Enforcement Health Benefits Inc.
Philadelphia

Mexicans aren't threat

When have you heard of any threat from Mexicans to attack the United States? They want only to make a little money to take care of their families. But we want to erect a billion-dollar wall to keep them out.

Where's the wall keeping out Islamic extremists? How did they get here? Some of these alleged conspirators planning to attack Fort Dix were here illegally. One knew Fort Dix inside out because he was a pizza delivery person there. Duh! Our priorities are wrong. Put the money meant for the wall at the Mexican border into better security at our international airports.

Regina Powell
Landsale

China's goal in Tibet

Re: Two stories in The Inquirer Monday, "Stolen children, Nazis' dream of racial purity" and "Remaking Tibetan lives":

One told of Polish children who were considered racially acceptable and removed from their families by the Nazis and given to adoptive families. The other told of the relocation of 250,000 Tibetans, nearly a tenth of their population, in what the Chinese call the "comfortable housing program." At the same time China has opened the gates of Tibet to greater numbers of ethnic Han Chinese.

The stolen-children program affected perhaps thousands. What China is doing is equivalent to the attempt by the Nazis to exterminate Jews and other groups. It is attempting to eliminate the Tibetan way of life and to so increase the Chinese population in Tibet that it can say Tibet is really Chinese.

If we saw today what the Nazis did, there would be huge protests. We largely ignore the monstrosity taking place in Tibet. Because of trade, we continue to give China a free pass.

Malcolm L. Watts
Kennett Square

Allow breast-feeding

Re: "Capitol rally urges action on breast-feeding bills," (May 8).

At a time when misplaced modesty endangers infants' ability to seek nourishment and closeness with their mothers, we applaud the unwavering commitment of State Sen. Constance Williams and breast-feeding advocates.

Since June 12, 1997, Philadelphia has been ahead of the state legally. From that date on, a city ordinance has protected a woman's right to breast-feed in public and the infants' right to eat. This should be made a statewide law, and Williams' bills would do just that!

While Philadelphia has the right values reflected in its law, the city has another issue to contend with. Our breast-feeding rates are among the lowest in the state and last among the 10 largest American cities.

So while we push for statewide protection of breast-feeding women and their hungry infants, we also need to get the message to employers and new mothers that, simply put, breast-feeding is best.

Bette Begleiter
Maternity Care Coalition
Philadelphia

Casinos: It's our call

Whether you are for or against casinos, it's an outrage Philadelphians are prohibited from voting on them. We need to take back our governance from Harrisburg. We are capable of making wise decisions for ourselves.

Constance Moore
Philadelphia