Commentary by Ron Miller
(Aug. 12, 2009) One of the questions I've asked myself in recent weeks as the debate over health care reform rages on is "If we were designing a uniquely American health care system from the beginning, what would it look like?" It would put the individual in complete control of his or her personal health, there would be no mandates, and groups of individuals would come together to meet the community's health care needs independent of government control and direction. I don't know if we have the perfect answer here in Calvert County, but while the rest of the country is arguing, we're doing something about it.
Eight years ago, a doctor and visionary named Raymon Noble saw a problem with health care for the working poor in our otherwise affluent community and took a different approach. He created a non-profit organization named Calvert Healthcare Solutions, Inc. with the mission of "providing basic health services through community physicians, pharmacies and health providers to Calvert County citizens who earn a limited income."
For example, a family of four making between $21,000 - $42,000 a year and without health insurance is eligible for low office visit copays, reduced prices on generic drugs, free immunizations and no premiums, monthly fees or deductibles for care. A free wellness profile, several free wellness screenings and reduced cost eye care programs are also available under the organization's plan.
Local doctors and medical centers, including Calvert Memorial Hospital, and local non-profit organizations such as the Lions Club offer services and support to the organization, and local pharmacies participate in the reduced price prescription program. The Calvert County Department of Social Services and the Health Department are also active participants.
This unique alliance of the medical community, volunteers, local government organizations and other community agencies has served over 1,100 Calvert County residents since its inception in 2001 and is striving to reach 1,100 more who may qualify for the program but have not yet taken advantage of their services. The organization subsists on private donations, fundraising events and grants, as well as the time and commitment of its volunteers. While the organization doesn't offer catastrophic care and not all applicants are eligible, they are also an information resource for referrals to programs that can help.
An organization like this isn't easy to establish or maintain but, in their own words, "Calvert Healthcare Solutions is an amazing, but relatively unknown, story of community spirit and cooperation." It is a testament to American ingenuity and problem-solving and an affirmation of anthropologist Margaret Mead's declaration that "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world...Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
I applaud Dr. Noble and all the fine men and women affiliated with Calvert Healthcare Solutions who didn't wait for government to tackle the problem but set out to deal with it themselves. If you believe such initiative should be encouraged, and you don't want a government solution with all its inefficiencies and intrusions into the most intimate and private of realms, your personal health, I strongly encourage you to support Calvert Healthcare Solutions. Volunteer your time or write them a check today. That's how Americans get things done.
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to
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