Obamacare rolls out anyway -- even in Western Maryland

Even opponents are eligible for the benefits of the new health insurance law

It's a beautiful thing: Thousands of people in Western Maryland — that cradle of rural conservatism and fed-up secessionists who want to declare their independence as the country's 51st state — are now eligible for affordable health insurance under Obamacare.

And 100 trained and certified Obamacare specialists are standing by at numerous locations in the five Western Maryland counties to help them enroll.

Is this a great country, or what?

No matter where you live, no matter what your political affiliation, you still get to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act — the one that tea party conservatives in Congress keep trying to destroy.

Even if you despise President Barack Obama and Democratic Party ideology, you can still get coverage.

That's the way it works.

I love this country.

On Tuesday, the day sore-loser congressional Republicans forced parts of the federal government to shut down over Obamacare, the fine people who work for a program called Door to HealthCare started enrolling Western Marylanders in new health plans.

That's what I call "Moving Right Along Now." They didn't let the ridiculous antics of Capitol Hill stop them from implementing a law that could eventually lead millions of Americans to healthier lives — or at least away from the fear of bankruptcy from medical bills.

Door to HealthCare is part of the big rollout of Obamacare.

In Maryland, various programs work through the Maryland Health Connection, the state's new health insurance marketplace, to get people signed up — young people, people who've never been able to afford health insurance or get it through an employer.

Door to HealthCare is the official consumer assistance organization for the five Western Maryland counties — Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington — plus Howard.

The organization is part of Healthy Howard, the nationally recognized program that already has helped thousands of uninsured men, women and children find affordable health care.

Healthy Howard is one of those progressive nonprofits run by people who think medical care should be a right, not a privilege. It was boldly conceived in 2008 by the county government (led by Democrats) to fill a void left by years of inaction by Congress.

Now, more Marylanders will be able to get subsidized health care.

Christine Hall, executive director of Healthy Howard, estimates that 84,000 people in the five Western Maryland counties, plus Howard, are eligible for the benefits of Obamacare.

And that includes opponents of the president's signature domestic program. That even includes members of the tea party and that small group of angry Western Marylanders who have started a secession movement.

It's a beautiful thing.

No one says this will all work perfectly. But who in their right mind thinks things we will be better if we just go back a few years to the status quo?

Every time I hear some Republican congressman talk trash about Obamacare — telling us why it won't work, or pointing out some flaw — I have to ask: Where were you five years ago, fella? What was your idea for providing health insurance for the uninsured, the "emergency room sick" who cost the rest of us, on average, $1,000 every year in our premiums?



Your weekly dose of health news, tips and events for Maryland
See a sample | Sign up