David Allan Minges, a 49-year-old veteran administrator for several public service nonprofits, has been hired as executive director of the Healthy Howard program, the Ulman administration's attempt to extend access to affordable health care to the uninsured.
"I think it's a great opportunity, based on my experience working on new initiatives," Minges said yesterday.
And since he's lost 50 pounds in five months through diet and exercise, he said, and lowered his blood pressure in the process, he's especially ready for the kind of preventive health care the program is aimed at.
The program is to begin offering services to county residents Oct. 1. The intention is to enroll about 2,000 people in the first year, eventually extending the access to the roughly 20,000 county residents without health insurance. County Executive Ken Ulman and county Health Officer Dr. Peter L. Beilenson intend the program to be a model for replication by other local governments.
The program is expected to cost $2.8 million in the first year, with all but $500,000 coming from patient fees and private donations. Participants would pay from $50 to $115 per month. Health coaches would work with participants individually to help them achieve better health habits, which would ideally reduce treatment costs.
The key aspect of the program is the use of existing health insurance like the State Children's Health Program and the expanded state Medicaid eligibility, combined with services from the Chase Brexton clinic in Columbia to extend health care. The program is not insurance and would be available only to legal citizens in Howard County.
Beilenson said Minges, who has worked in Columbia for the last several years as a program manager for the Maryland Technology Development Corp., the state/private business development arm of state government, began his $90,000-a-year job on a part-time, transitional basis Monday. He will become full time by the end of the month, Beilenson said.
"He's got lots of administrative experience," Beilenson said, adding that Minges is "really dynamic" with "good interpersonal skills."
Minges worked from 1989 to 1991 as manager for corporate involvement for health insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and for six years as executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, according to his resume.
The program needs an administrator rather than a medical person, Beilenson said.
"This is basically putting together a network of providers. To keep them on board and well connected is probably the most important thing we can do," Beilenson said. "We were looking for someone who has run a nonprofit before."
Minges, who lives in North Baltimore with his wife, Fran Gunther Minges, and their two sons, ages 9 and 11, said his first task will be to set up the private nonprofit Healthy Howard entity and rent office space for the program.
"I'll be hiring staff, raising money, meeting and hearing from groups, organizations and school groups around Howard County," Minges said.