Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's HHAPpening now?

The Sun reports that HHAP is likely to get the $500,000 that Ulman put in the draft budget, although Fox may try and trim some of that back. Here is a re-cap of the stats:

According to figures presented to the council, the program has screened 6,089 people and found that 3,789 were eligible for existing insurance plans. Another 789 enrolled in Healthy Howard, but 178 dropped out for a variety of reasons including changes in income and the cost of the program. Participants pay from $50 to $85 a month for comprehensive medical services, though it is not insurance.

Since HHAP was unable to get any significant private funding, they are putting a limit of 750 patients in place. They currently have only 621 members. Recall that $50,000 was recently spent (paid for by a private grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation) to organize an advertising campaign for HHAP. This means that Annie E. Casey Foundation paid $50,000 to get HHAP at most 129 additional members:

Guy Moody of St. John United Methodist Presbyterian Church in Columbia said Beilenson helped arrange a $50,000 Annie E. Casey Foundation grant. The money is paying for the door-knocking campaign, including coordinator Jessica Jones, who is working toward a goal of knocking on 4,000 doors by Labor Day to find more people who may be eligible for Healthy Howard, but who don't know about the program.

And it's politics as usual in discussing HHAP at the council meetings:

Fox seized on early studies of the program's patients that showed they had no more serious health problems than the general insured public to mean the program hasn't added anything special. He contends the thousands who learned they qualify for existing insurance by applying to Healthy Howard could be served in other, cheaper ways.

But Terrasa and program officials rebuffed that idea, saying that the program is serving as a vital "portal" for those without insurance and who have limited incomes. Getting nearly 3,800 people insurance is exactly what the program should be doing and is a major success, they argued, not a liability.

My irritation with Terrasa's point about HHAP hooking up 3,800 people with health insurance is that the software to do that is already in place and already paid for. HHAP does not need $500,000 to continue to do that. It needs the $500,000 to pay for health coaches and other expenses unrelated to linking people up with health insurance. So when looking at the marginal benefit of throwing another $500,000 at HHAP, we should not consider their ability to hook people up with health insurance since that framework is already in place.

Someone said on HoCoRising's blog that "blogs are least likely venue for rational discourse of any sort." I don't think that statement is true. The least likely venue for rational discourse of any sort is in the County Council meeting room.


Anonymous said...

PATH is not only promoting Healthy Howard. They are promoting access to care for anyone that is uninsured and educating the community on the impacts of the implementation of health care reform. Healthy Howard promotion is just a part of what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

Freemarket, it seems that you believe that computers are able to to collect documents, send snail mail, etc. All of the things necessary to process an application... Someone must do all of the work prior to the data entry. I am sure the computer program is impressive but not magical. Why not HHAP? I think you would agree that government is not always the most efficient model for doing such things. Perhaps non-profits are the way to go.

Freemarket said...

HHAP is more like a government agency than an ordinary non-profit. The argument is pretty much over for me, the question is how much longer taxpayers will have to finance this failure.

Anonymous said...

Can you please explain what you mean when you say that "HHAP is more like a government agency." How so? And what information are you basing your comment on? Because they receive money from the government? Many, if not all human service non-profits receive money from the government. Many in Howard County receive sums much larger than HHAP.

Freemarket said...

In HHAP's first year it got about 60% of its support from the Howard County government. In year two it got at least 60% and possibly much higher since there were so few members. This budget cycle it will get a little less than 60% since Horizon came through with $150k. There are organizations that receive a higher dollar amount (exactly 2 organizations), but I don't think those organizations get as high of a % of their funding from gov't as HHAP does.

Plus, HHAP was formed under the close supervision of Ulman and Beilenson, two ambitious political folk. If it were not for the Howard County government, there would be no HHAP. That's a fact. I'm not sure that's true of any other non-profit, and certainly not true of most non-profits.

Let me ask you a question, anon. How much have you personally donated to HHAP? Please answer.