Thursday, May 21, 2009

Healthy Howard On Life Support

I have been ignoring my dear county recently with my obsession with all the fun market manipulation going on in DC. I apologize Howard County. Maybe this weekend we can go to the park and spend some time just us, like the old days.

Anyway, the Council passed a $1.4 Billion budget 4-1. Greg Fox was the sole dissenter, holding objection to the continued forced march of Healthy Howard. My favorite part of the article:

The council made virtually no changes, rejecting an attempt by Republican
Greg Fox to cut in half the county's second annual $500,000 grant to Healthy
Howard Inc., Ulman's program to provide health access to uninsured, low-income
residents."The (enrollment) numbers were 10 percent of what they were intended
to be when this came to us," said Fox, the council's lone Republican, criticizing Ulman for starting new programs with a recession coming.
Democrat Jen Terrasa fought back."It looks like you don't support health care, or is there something else going on here?" she said.

I've got a special place in my heart for people like Councilman Terrasa. They take criticisms of a broken program and inflate them to the breaking point. "If you don't like Healthy Howard, you must hate doctors. In fact, I bet you drink soda before going to bed without brushing your teeth."

I've said this before, but Healthy Howard may be a product without a market. The Council had the opportunity to debate this point, but after Councilman Terrasa pointed out that minds were already made, the Council chose to continue to fully fund the program. The Council suggests that one year is not enough to evaluate the success of this underperforming program, yet found one year to be more than enough time to evaluate and narrow the Senior Tax Credit last year.

This is party politics streamlining Ulman's pet project. If this program is a failure, Ulman loses big. If it is a success, (or can be continually described as a program going through "growing pains"), Ulman wins big. The real shame is that county employees will be losing their jobs and going on furlough while this program eats about $500,000 in county funds annually for 200 participants (approximately $2,500 per head, which only accounts for operating costs and not the original sunk costs and private contributions).

If you want to see a program floudering for relevance, read this article from the Sun, a paper that has tried repeatedly to fluff up support. The biggest thing to pay attention to is that this program originally anticipated 2,000 participants in the first year, but has only 200. The program originally asked for $500,000 to serve 2,000 people, but now wants $500,000 to serve 200 people. How does this make any sense? Well for that you need to look to a quote from that article

Beilenson said the major roadblock to signing up more clients is lack of
awareness. "I think it's very clear people just don't know about it," he said.

The money is going to posters.

1 comment:

  1. So. The county government thinks no one knows about Healthy Howard, but **everyone** knows what land development plans are being concocted in their neighborhoods, because it was so well advertised in tiny print in the back of the 100 page local paper that requires subscription.

    There's just no end to the absolute disconnect from reality.