Tuesday, April 27, 2010

See Pete Lobby

Peter Bielenson is lobbying for another $500,000 of our tax dollars to fund the Healthy Howard Access Plan for another year. The plan only has 614 members, so this would be a hand out of more than $800 per enrollee. That seems like too much of a subsidy for a single program. I don't think HHAP should get another penny, but the council is unlikely to cut them off entirely. Given this political reality, the council should at the very least cut the funding request in half. Either make HHAP raise their rates or cut their services.

The Sun reports that private charities are unwilling to give to HHAP because Howard County is too rich:

Fox was not mollified, however, asking Beilenson how much he has raised in private donations, which were originally touted as a major source of funding. Columbia's Horizon Foundation has contributed $650,000, and another $57,000 in grants have come along with $1 million in donated services, but Beilenson said other foundations have bluntly told him that "this is too wealthy a county to support this. It should come from government." Shirley Collier, a Horizon board members, testified in agreement, explaining why Horizon's newest grant is $150,000 after an initial seed grant of $500,000.

"Obviously, they're defensive about something," Fox said after the hearing. "I don't think there's a [predicted] number they've met. Everything is an excuse."

On a slightly separate note, I found this anecdote from the Sun article very interesting:

Deborah Mills, an entrepreneur selling custom clothes to business executives, saw her business fall off due to the recession and had to choose between her mortgage, utility bills and health insurance before she got into Healthy Howard. "What is happening in this county is history in the making," she said. Now she needn't worry that missing routine tests could be putting her health at risk.

It really sucks to have to choose between health insurance, paying your mortgage and paying your utilities. I guess that is the risk of being self employed, and of those three choices dumping the health insurance seems the least painful. But when the insurance reform provisions of Obamacare kick in during 2014, people in the same situation will be choosing between paying the mortgage and paying utilities, because health insurance will be required by law. I guess we'll have to see how the insurance subsidies impact that mandate.


Anonymous said...

Why do all of the opponents seem to forget the thousands of folks who were provided with access to affordable insurance in other programs because of HH? Isn't it good business to only pay for 800 if you can get 3,000 in other programs and still get 4,000 folks some insurance?

Freemarket said...

Anon- the software to place those people with those other gov't insurance programs cost something like $70,000 and is already paid for. Therefore, we could cut every penny to HHAP and still be able to place people in those other programs using that software. I am sure HHAP would be happy to donate it back to the county if they were to go out of business. It is the least HHAP could do for the taxpayers who paid for the software in the first place and funded their operations for two years. So that benefit is not something we should consider when discussing how much HHAP should be funded.