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Howard's Plan will be shaped by U.S. Decisions on SCHIP

The health care access plan for uninsured residents that Howard County Ken Ulman plans to announce is linked to the national debate on the State Children's Health Insurance Program at the present playing out in Washington, according to county officials and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who met with Ulman on Friday.

Ulman said, "It's an incredibly important piece of the access to health care."

Although Ulman has not released many facts of his plan, he and the county's health officer, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, stressed that registering more uninsured county residents in existing federal and state programs is an imperative part of their strategy.

Mikulski said, "The healthy Howard County initiative is based on this triad":

- Use every available federal financing to provide health care to the uninsured.

- Incorporate programs obtainable to the state and other opportunities.

- Get hold of philanthropic dollars.

She said, "My role is to make sure the federal programs are intact, because they are the anchor to the healthy county initiative." That is why she wants Congress to override President Bush's veto of a $35 billion expansion of the SCHIP program.

The president argued that the bill is too costly, and that it would promote government-run health insurance.

Beilenson said that if Bush gets his way, "there will actually be a net decrease in the number of kids who are going to be getting the children's health initiative services, and that makes it harder for us to do our program."

Ulman also noted that Gov. Martin O'Malley has spoken regarding expansion of coverage under the state's Medicaid program, which would help the county plan.

He said, "The more people, covered [at] the federal and the state level, the less the gap is at the local level."

On the other hand, Mikulski said, plans like Howard's will help nationally, too.

She said, "At the end of the first year, I think we'll have something we can take to the federal government as we look at national health care. What can we learn from local communities and the states, which are laboratories of innovation?"

 

 

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