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(Updated) Howard County Officials on Health Care Decision: ‘Hard Work Ahead’

‘We will be both the educator and the navigator for enrollment.’ - Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County Health Officer.

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. to include more reaction from Howard County leaders.

Howard County officials applauded Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, saying it would provide coverage for “hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents,” but cautioned that hard work was ahead to connect people to health insurance. 

On Twitter, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said:

"#ACA is upheld & lots of hard work ahead. Looking forward to using the Healthy Howard model to connect Marylanders w/afford. care they need."

Ulman was referring to the Healthy Howard nonprofit organization, which has made national headlines for its health plan that has provided health services to 1,700 uninsured residents since it starting enrolling people in 2008. The organization has also to other health insurance programs for which they are eligible.

Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County's health officer, said Thursday that now that health insurance is mandatory, Howard County’s program to provide health services to uninsured residents would expire in January of 2014.

Beilenson also said that the nonprofit would now increase its focus on explaining how the health care law works for residents. 

“The … [law] is complex,” he said. “Because it’s been bandied about as a political football, nobody knows quite what it is. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled this is the law of the land, we can start explaining it to the average citizen what it means. 

“We will be both the educator and the navigator for enrollment.”

Beilenson praised the Supreme Court decision.

“The Affordable Care Act can now move forward and provide new coverage and health care for hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents, which will give them security and peace of mind,” he said in a press release. “Today’s Supreme Court ruling will benefit many of our friends, relatives and neighbors.”

Republican State Sen. Allan Kittleman, who represents Howard and Carroll counties, said he was “disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I’m glad the court said it violated the Commerce Act,” he said. “My concern--it seems the justices have stretched to find it valid under the power of taxing authority.”

Kittleman also said the decision would catapult health care into the presidential election debate.

“I think it’s going to be one of the, if not the biggest issue in the election,” Kittleman told Patch. “It could be an albatross to hang around the president’s neck and make it difficult for re-election.”

In an informal this week, 54 percent said the Supreme Court should overturn the law.

One commenter said “Constitutionality aside, how does Obamacare fix anything? You can [have] three types of health care: cheap, quick and good. But, you can only have two at a time. Obamacare will not change that fundamental constraint.

Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of in Columbia, said her organization is among those that will be distributing information in the area about the impact of the health care law.

“We’d like to be neutral and objective--non partisan, and we would like to be a source of information for both individuals and business in the county, working closely with Healthy Howard and the [Howard County] health department, the Chamber and the Economic Development Authority,” she said.

Want to know more about the ins and outs of the ruling?

Check out the Huffington Post coverage and Scotusblog, which purports to be President Obama's source for Supreme Court news. 

Did the court get it right? .

MG42 June 28, 2012 at 04:34 PM
It's interesting to see Ken Ulman move the goal posts on Healthy Howard depending on which way the wind blows. Before, the "Healthy Howard Model" was all the health coaches, monthly program fees and all the other such nonsense that Obamacare has made obsolete. Now all of the sudden, the "Healthy Howard Model" is connecting people existing insurance programs. Which, I assume means using the Health-E-Link software that was actually the cheapest part (about $70K) of the $2 million that Howard County taxpayers have wasted on the Healthy Howard program, which has really only served to market Ken Ulman on the national stage.
Barb L June 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Kudos to Howard County officials for embracing the Supreme Court's decision on the health care law and starting to work on how it can benefit the people here. This is a forward-thinking county in many ways, and I'm hopeful that good things will come of all this.
Concerned Elkridgean June 29, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Interesting... The problem is no one has defined what the terms of the healthcare insurance policy has to be 5,000.. 10,000 deductible or 50,000 deductible. Healthy Howard only allows 6 doctor offices visits a year and initially a client has to go for a full checkup. It does not cover Alternative medicine like acupuncture!

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