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Letters to the Editor: Red Line support; A threat to dialysis patients

Your editorial speculating that the Red Line is “falling out of favor” is, as Mark Twain once said upon reading his own obituary, greatly exaggerated. Earlier [last] week, we announced additional state funding and an innovative project delivery approach for the Purple Line. We are equally anticipating news on the Red Line that we will share in an upcoming announcement this month in the Baltimore Metropolitan Region.

While both the Red Line and the Purple Line provide significant transportation, economic development and environmental benefits in their respective regions and both are strong contenders for future investment, they are different projects with different funding needs and different delivery approaches. The plan, to pursue the Purple Line through a public-private partnership, front-loads the process to select a private partner. We are still considering public-private partnerships for certain components of the Red Line.

Marylanders can look forward to an expanded state rail network early in the next decade. Our support for Red Line is unwavering.

James T. Smith, Jr.
Maryland Department of Transportation

More than 9,000 people in Maryland rely on a dialysis machine to clean their blood because their kidneys have failed. The treatments they receive three times a week for four hours at a time help them stay alive. Because of the care they receive, many are able to fully participate in life, enjoying professional careers and family milestones. And now, these life-saving treatments are being threatened. Recent cuts to Medicare proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would cut reimbursement for dialysis by over 9 percent.

Kidney failure patients require dialysis to survive, and at least 85 percent of them rely predominantly on Medicare to help pay the cost of treatment. These proposed cuts will, without a doubt, have an enormous impact on their access to quality care. For some patients, there is the fear that the facility they rely on may have to close. Others may no longer be able to receive free nutritional supplements, essential education or extended hours so they can receive treatment at night and work during the day.

I urge your readers to join the National Kidney Foundation in getting the word out to our legislators who can make a difference. Please contact your representative in Congress through the National Kidney Foundation’s Take Action Network. You can help protect thousands of patients who require Medicare funding for life-saving dialysis care.

Christopher Simon
Chairman, Board of Directors
National Kidney Foundation of Maryland