Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pendergrass ponies up $1,000 for Howard health care

The message from Del. Shane Pendergrass Tuesday was, “Do as I say AND as I do.”

The Howard County Democrat made an appearance at the end of a news conference at which County Executive Ken Ulman unveiled his partially funded plan to open access to health care for many of the county’s 20,000 uninsured residents.

Ulman’s program would cost $2.8 million in its first year, with $700,000 of that to come from yet-to-be-collected donations from private corporations, foundations and individuals.

Pendergrass, the new vice chair for the House of Delegates’ Health and Government Operations Committee, thanked Ulman for his efforts and invoked her very own checkbook in praising the plan.

“The right thing for me to do today is to write the first check for $1,000,” Pendergrass said as she took the podium at Howard County Community College.

The amount is equal to what insured Marylanders pay in extra health costs each year to cover their 800,000-some uninsured neighbors, according to county health officer Dr. Peter Beilenson.

Ulman said about two dozen people had pledged money to the program, but the delegate’s was the first check cut.

“I hope that what I do will send a message,” Pendergrass told the crowd.

There was no sound of rustling checkbooks in the room after her announcement.

Tell us: Would you crack your piggy bank to help support a plan similar to what they’re doing in Howard County?

—KAREN BUCKELEW, Business Writer

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