Archives for September 2013

LaFerla Responds To Harris’ Food Stamps and Obamacare Positions

Press Releases—John LaFerla, Candidate for Congress in MD-01, issued the following statement on Andy Harris’ recent vote, which cut millions of dollars from the critical food stamp program:

“Last week, in two stunning votes, Andy Harris clearly showed his disdain for the needs of the people he supposedly represents in Congress.

He voted to cut 4 million people from the food stamp program, despite the fact that over 10% of his constituents in Maryland’s 1st Congressional district rely on this vital assistance. In an interview on CNN he justifies this cut by citing waste and abuse in the system. However, he fails to mention that the actual estimate of inappropriate use of food stamps is less than 2%. And, of course he doesn’t mention the thousands of people in District 1 who would be cut off from food assistance by his action. The reason for the increased use of the food stamp program in recent years is our poor economy, with many people out of work for long periods. The need for supplemental food assistance will go down once the economy has further recovered.

In a separate vote, he went along with his Tea Party colleagues voting to bring the country to the brink of a government shutdown. To continue paying the country’s bills, Harris insists on only funding the government under the condition that the Affordable Care Act be defunded. His vote is purely political, has no chance of becoming law, and is totally irresponsible. The people of the 1st congressional district need their Congressman to represent their interests in Washington, not to waste time making meaningless political points.”

Contact Keauna Gregory,

Review: David A. Douglas at the Academy Art Museum by Mary McCoy

It’s been a long time since people believed that a photograph never lies. David A. Douglas’s images are proof that these days, photos lie a lot. On view at the Academy Art Museum through October 13, his powerful photo-encaustic landscapes and still lifes are simultaneously dreamlike and strangely real.

 “Study for Portrait of Scout Dreaming”  81" x 62" ultra chrome pigmented ink, acrylic gel, wax on archival paper mounted on wood panel

“Study for Portrait of Scout Dreaming” 81″ x 62″
ultra chrome pigmented ink, acrylic gel, wax on archival paper mounted on wood panel

If you just glance at them, you might think you’re looking at vintage photos blown up to museum-scale panels but that’s an impression that won’t last for long. Some of these works show historic buildings but others present bland modern houses. These may sit beside decidedly un-scenic ponds where some trees cast reflections but others don’t. Sometimes the perspective is curiously wrong. Sometimes patches of grass and leaves are photographed at different scales. Surreal details appear, like a boxwood bush growing in the interior of a ruined old brick house. Then there’s the enormous thumbprint hovering above the bush. What gives?

Now living and teaching in Alexandria, Virginia, Douglas earned both his degrees in painting, a BA from Virginia Intermont College and an MFA from James Madison University. He still sees himself as a painter although he chooses to use digital photography and his computer as his tools along with the more painterly mediums of encaustic wax and acrylic gel. He layers images in the computer, prints them, paints on them, cuts them apart, layers in other images, scars them, draws on them, scans them back into the computer, and repeats the process again and again. His images may go through dozens of incarnations before they are finalized, and the effect is that you see the artist’s hand throughout the work, yet it has the credibility of photography.

There’s so much fascinating stuff going on in Douglas’s work that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, thanks to his innovative process, these elegant black and white images are mesmerizing. They’re filled with peculiar, even comical details to puzzle over, and they have a striking visual richness and sensuous depth created by brushy layers of encaustic wax. Secondly, those same details aren’t quite what they seem. Plus, they call up many art historical influences and concerns, especially questions about photography’s role in art.

A quick glance at “Study for Portrait of Scout Dreaming” shows a scarred and shadowy image of a frame house standing beside the water. It has a reclusive loneliness reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting, but something’s not right. The concrete steps leading down from its front walk flare out at a very odd angle. And there’s rippling water on each of the steps. The background on one side of the house is a seascape; on the other, it’s a fenced field. Not only are these backgrounds inconsistent (note the art historical precedent in the Mona Lisa’s mismatched backgrounds), but the reflections in the water in the foreground don’t fit the shape of the house.

This is a dreamlike image worthy of any Surrealist, and like all the works in this exhibit, it’s a visual feast of imagery melded with painterly marks and suffused with soft light and velvety black shadows. Using photographic tricks and painterly ones, Douglas splices image after image together, setting up an uneasy balance between “reality” and intuitive associations.

“Bull Run Study” might easily be taken for a contemporary of one of Civil War photographer Mathew Brady’s shots. There’s the historic Stone House complete with

 “Evening Landscape with Jerry at Anderson Pond” 63" x 48" ultra chrome pigmented ink, acrylic gel, wax on archival paper mounted on wood panel

“Evening Landscape with Jerry at Anderson Pond” 63″ x 48″
ultra chrome pigmented ink, acrylic gel, wax on archival paper mounted on wood panel

its split rail fence, but Douglas is toying with historical fact: it’s reflected in a pond that doesn’t actually exist. Not only that, he’s digitally shortened the vertical axis of the reflection making it considerably more squat than the house itself. He’s getting mischievous again.

Far from being documentary photography, these artworks are chockfull of borrowed images woven not quite seamlessly into pictorial fictions. Sometimes you get a

sense of time and history in the murky dark shadows and the fading branches of bare trees that call to mind historic photographs like Brady’s. Sometimes a solitary figure or a stark landscape seen through a window will make you think of Andrew Wyeth’s bleak autumn scenes. Sometimes, especially in Douglas’s larger-than-life “portraits” of flowers, there’s a self-consciously dramatic beauty that calls to mind Robert Mapplethorpe’s stylized photographs.

This is interactive work. You’d have to live with one of these images for a long time to really get to know it. But spending just a little time with this exhibit, you begin to see the point. Some of it’s true; some is false. But it’s not just about jokes and illusions. Douglas’s work is strangely evocative and haunting. It invites you to attend closely and work out the truth for yourself.

So much of life is artificial nowadays. Instead of natural forests, lakes and meadows, housing developments, streets and shopping malls are the norm, and we spend more and more time in the virtual world of digital information and images. Douglas is playing with the fact that, individually and culturally, we are creating our own realities.

Knowing full well that old houses evoke nostalgia, that we honor the value of history, that trees reflected in water are beautiful, and that there’s nothing like the green grass of home, he gleefully picks and chooses what he wants to appear in his works. Dreamlike but plausible, each presents its own version of reality, and each is an object lesson in how we do the same.


Easton Airport Day In Pictures

The 5th annual Easton Airport Day  was held on Saturday, September 28th at Easton’s Newnam Field. A day with perfect weather brought out aviation enthusiasts of all ages. This free event offers everyone a chance to get up close to aircraft – from vintage planes to the Maryland State Police helicopter, equipped with the most updated technology available. Troopers offers tours and answered questions from an eager crowd.

This year, the event included a 5 K Fun Run and Walk on the runway, a jet pull competition, warbird formation flyovers and the crowd favorite, the rubber chicken drop. In this event, crews fly low to drop a rubber chicken onto a target on a pickup truck. Plane rides were available, and vintage aircraft flew in formation, shooting smoke and zooming overhead.

Proceeds from the event benefit Habitat For Humanity Choptank’s Repair Corps, helping veterans whose homes need critical repairs. 

waving chicken

state police helicopter


pilot taking her chicken

plane peels to right

maryland jet

man watching

in formation

deep red one

crowd watches

easton airport day

3 pilots

91K 52





Federal Government Shutdown Would Hurt Workers, Maryland Economy

WASHINGTON – A possible government shutdown starting Tuesday would cause federal agencies in Maryland to close or seriously cut back operations, resulting in significant hardship for federal workers, as well as declining economic output and lower tax revenue for the state.
A shutdown is possible because House Republicans have tied government funding in the new fiscal year to delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
“I was furloughed two days this summer,” said Pentagon police officer and Maryland resident Robert Voss. “I can’t afford to lose two more weeks of work. I’m a single father. Two weeks is a long time to go without a paycheck.”
Daraius Irani, executive director of Towson University’s Regional Economic and Studies Institute, said that a shutdown could lead to days or weeks of lost income and productivity from Maryland’s roughly 90,000 federal workers and 180,000 federal contractors.
Irani found that depending on how many of those workers are furloughed, the total loss of income per day to families in Maryland would fall between $18 million and $68 million. That is about 3 to 7 percent of Maryland’s total daily income.
Irani said that while that number is small, it can add up quickly, like it did in the government’s 21-day shutdown from 1995 to 1996.
“Once you go into day 10, it begins to feel like a real number,” Irani said. “And for the state, this means that you have another headwind, a manufactured crisis that you’re creating that’s going to negatively impact Maryland and Virginia and D.C.”
Irani added that Maryland will lose between $700,000 and $2.5 million every day in income taxes, and the state’s economic output will fall between $24 million and $89 million each day.
“It will adversely affect our economy, national security and our operations of government,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said this week. “We have a lot of government employees who will be told not to come to work and who will not be paid.”
Military bases throughout Maryland will continue to operate even if the government shuts down next Tuesday. Department of Defense Under Secretary Robert Hale said military members will be instructed to continue to carry out their obligations.
Although military members will still report for duty, supporting activities that do not actively contribute to the “safety of life and preservation of property” will be suspended. Military training exercises, recruitment and routine maintenance tasks may come to a halt if the government shuts down next week.
Among the agencies affected by a possible shutdown is the Department of Justice, and specifically the federal court system. Charles Hall, a spokesman for the U.S. District Courts in Maryland, said the effects will likely not be felt until mid-October.
“Our shutdown is going to take a couple of weeks,” Hall said. “Unlike some agencies, we have some fee and carry-over money from previous years to keep the lights on and courts running for (about) two weeks into October.”
In the wake of a government shutdown, federal agencies such as the courts will have to decide what positions are considered essential and non-essential. Those deemed non-essential will be furloughed, which is basically an indefinite, non-paid vacation.
Those deemed essential will be asked to come to work, however, they will not be paid for the duration of the shutdown. Congress would decide whether they are paid after the fact.
When the courts do run out of money, cuts will be made. Hall said decisions about essential and non-essential positions will be made by each court’s Chief Justice.
In total, roughly 85 percent of the Department of Justice will stay on the job during a potential shutdown.
Another agency that will use carryover funds to continue operating after the October 1 deadline is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, based in Rockville.
Holly Harrington, a spokeswoman, said the agency is not sure exactly how long it will stay open, but it should be able to operate for at least a short period using unspent money from previous years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based in Silver Spring, will lose about half of its staff in the face of a shutdown. According to a recent Commerce Department document outlining its shutdown plan, roughly 6,600 NOAA employees would stay on the job.
Most of those workers would come from the National Weather Service, which is required to continue functioning because its work can identify “imminent threats to protect life and property.” In addition, about 500 employees from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which regulates and enforces laws related to marine wildlife, would also stay on the job.
However, even with those exceptions, approximately 5,400 NOAA employees – about 45 percent of the agency’s workforce – would be sent home.
Another Silver Spring-based agency, the Food and Drug Administration, will furlough about 8,000, or 45 percent, of its 14,779-person workforce. With those sorts of cuts, the agency says it “will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities.”
Some of those halted activities include routine establishment inspections and monitoring U.S. imports.
The National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, will not be accepting new patients nor will it be taking on new clinical trials, extramural research grants or contracts. Without admitting new patients, NIH will be carrying on with roughly 90 percent of its normal patient load during the shutdown.
NIH will also be keeping employees who protect property related to ongoing medical experiments, maintenance of animals and protection of government-owned property.
According to its contingency plan, “For some of the on-going experiments, a break in the protocol would render the research property (both animate and inanimate) useless and require some of it to be destroyed. ”
In total, NIH will keep about 27 percent of its 18,646-person staff.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt will retain 104 of its 3,397 federal employees in the wake of a government shutdown, with only 60 of those employees full time. That will leave the center with a bare bones staff only three percent of its normal size. Goddard will also have 251 employees who are “on-call,” meaning they will only come to the center if there is an emergency.
Government funds also play a role protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and with the EPA expected to lose 94 percent of its employees, according to its 2013 contingency plan, Chesapeake programs are expected to lose some of their workforce.
However, Margaret Enloe, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Bay Program, said that water monitoring and restoration programs should not be affected by the shutdown. She said most of the employees are funded by state programs or partnerships, so they will continue to work even if there is a shutdown.
But she added that those employees, many of whom work at the EPA-owned headquarters in Annapolis, will be seriously inconvenienced.
“There is a physical building that is managed by the EPA, and that building will be closed,” Enloe said. Because of that, Enloe said, most employees will not be able to work or meet in the building.
Employees will instead work from home, which Enloe said is frustrating but ultimately easy to deal with.
“I’ll give you one example,” Enloe said. “We have a giant conference room that we use for meetings, and if the government shuts down, we can’t use it. But then you go find another place or have a conference call.”
Capital News Service’s Joshua Axelrod contributed to this story.

Capital News Service

Skipjack Rides In St. Michaels October 5th

CBMM_SkipjackRides_HMKrentzThe skipjack H.M. Krentz will be offering sailing cruises at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD on Saturday, October 5 during the 31st annual Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. The Miles River cruises will depart from CBMM’s waterfront campus at 12:45pm, 1:45pm, and 2:45pm, with limited boarding available. Tickets will be available at the museum’s welcome center, the day of the event at $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 to 11, and kids five and under free. 

The H. M. Krentz was built in 1955 by Herman Krentz of Harry Hogan, VA for David Lewis, Bronza Parks’ nephew. Bronza Parks built more than 400 boats in Wingate, MD, including the 1955 skipack Rosie Parks, now under restoration at CBMM and due to be relaunched November 2 at OysterFest.

When he’s not taking guided sailing charters out in the warmer months, Captain Ed Farley continues as a working waterman each winter dredging for Chesapeake oysters aboard the H. M. Krentz. He holds a USCG 100-ton auxiliary/sail license, while relying upon more than 41 years of sailing skipjacks and wooden boatbuilding when sharing stories about the Chesapeake. Prior to owning the Krentz, Captain Farley owned and operated the 1902 skipjack Stanley Norman. He also developed and operated the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s sailing skipjack environmental educational program, carrying more than 14,000 school children on interpretive tours.

For more information about the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival, which continues through Sunday, October 6, visit For information about the H. M. Krentz, visit


Alcohol Remains the Number One Drug Problem

While much of the attention regarding substance abuse focuses on new designer and synthetic drugs, alcoholism remains the leading drug problem. Alcohol is associated with 73% of felonies, 83% of homicides and 41% of rapes in the United States. The cost is upwards of $200 billion per year.

In addition, alcohol is the drug of choice among America’s youth.  Seventy-two percent of students have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and 39% have done so by 8th grade.  55% of 12th graders and 18% of 8th graders reported having been drunk at least once.

Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse in their lifetimes than those who begin drinking at age 21 years or later. The average age at which young people begin to drink is now 13 years old.

In Talbot County, the County Health Department, which is the largest provider of addiction treatment services in the county, serves about 450 clients per year. They report alcohol abuse is the primary treatment issue for our adults. The University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton’s out-patient treatment program serves 155 adult clients a year.  They report seeing the same trends as the Health Department. 

Excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States, resulting in approximately 80,000 deaths each year.  It can present in two forms, heavy drinking and binge drinking. Heavy drinking is defined as an average of more than two drinks per day for men or an average of more than one drink per day for women. Binge drinking is defined as the ingestion of five or more drinks during a single occasion for men or four or more drinks during a single occasion for women.

Alcohol abuse is a disease that is characterized by the sufferer having a pattern of drinking excessively despite the negative effects of alcohol on the individual’s work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social life. Alcohol abuse affects about 10% of women and 20% of men in the United States, most beginning by their mid teens.

Alcohol impairs judgment when consumed and can lead to drinking and driving, unintended sexual activity, violence, or other dangerous behaviors. Alcohol abuse can lead to long-term health issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer of the throat, liver, or mouth, anxiety and depression, dementia, liver disease, and much more.

For further information on the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067. Please also visit our website or find us on Facebook

Bronaugh Joins CBMM As Shipwright Apprentice

Bill Bronaugh, of Charleston, WV, has recently joined the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD as a shipwright apprentice.

CBMM_BillBronaugh_2013Bronaugh begins his apprenticeship working on the historic restoration of the skipjack Rosie Parks.

Bronaugh joins CBMM after attending Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, MI, where he worked on a whaleboat for Mystic Seaport’s Charles W. Morgan.

He began his career in woodworking building kayaks and furniture, relying on what he learned from his father, who was a luthier.

Bronaugh was first introduced to the Chesapeake Bay region while visiting from West Virginia a few years back, and looks forward to his first on-the-water experience along the Chesapeake aboard the Rosie Parks, after her restoration is complete.

He is living in Easton, MD during his one-year apprenticeship.

CBMM’s professional shipwright apprentice program provides recent wooden boatbuilding school graduates on-the-job training through the restoration and maintenance of the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay watercraft in the world.

For more information, visit the “Working Boatyard” page at


Food Friday: The Crumbling Cookie Caper

I fear I sound like a slightly vulgar Nancy Drew sometimes. But then again, she would have had her trusty and reliable housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, bake the damn cookies for her. And in Nancy’s adventurous life, beset with jewel thieves and bouts of water-skiing, nothing much ever went awry. But clever boots Nancy never tried to bake World Peace Cookies. I apologize to Bon Appétit for ruining their recipe, which in the right hands, is delicious.

I set out to make World Peace Cookies, because of the charming name and conceit. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could promote world peace with a delightful batch of freshly baked cookies? Think of the bake sales, all over the world, where different cultures could agree on the tastiness of these sweet, chocolate morsels. We could turn the UN building into housing for the homeless. There would be an overabundance of plowshares. Technology could focus on finding clean water instead of spinning plutonium into bombs. We could reverse global warming.

This peace movement is not going to start in my kitchen. Perhaps this is why my family usually only baked cookies at Christmas time when I was growing up. Perhaps I have a baking condition. Or perhaps I am embracing the notion of fall and the change in the weather a little too enthusiastically. Do I really want to wear socks again? How badly do I want to be Martha Stewart? Or Nigella Lawson, who despite her domestic problems, always seems to enjoy herself lustily while baking. I suppose I should have seen disaster as it came hurtling its way toward me when the baking powder fell off the tippy-top shelf of the kitchen cabinet where all the spices and seasonings live, put far out of the reach of my tiny little fingers by my son, The Tall One.

When the baking powder fell, it did not explode, which would have been too cinematic in its foreshadowing implications. Then I saw another red tin of baking powder on another, more reachable shelf. And ever curious, I turned each canister around to read its sell-by date. This revelation is at least as embarrassing as last year when I discovered that our Old Bay Seasoning was a decade old, if not older. As I scanned the labels I discovered that I had a choice between baking powder that should have been off the shelf and out of the house in 2004, and another which safely expires in 2014. Somehow it gladdened me that I had fairly current baking powder so I was not too mortified by the discovery of the ancient baking powder. Until now, that is. I hope my fate does not rest on me becoming a Collyer who hoards ancient spices, seasonings and ingredients. Much better to be discovered flattened under a mound of yellowing magazines heralding royal weddings and births…

I assembled the rest of ingredients, preheated the oven, sifted and mixed, chopped and divided, Saran-wrapped two long logs of chocolate dough, and refrigerated, as required. I felt as smug as Bridget Jones, before she discovered the blue string had colored her otherwise beauteous soup. I walked away from the kitchen, knowing that in a few short hours I would be slicing and baking noble World Peace Cookies.

Later on in the kitchen… Oh, the wages of sin. Pride goeth, and all that. I almost had to get out the electric knife to slice the damn hardened logs of dough. I hacked away at the titanium chocolate dough, and after a while, and after a fashion, I managed to slice it into crumbly little circles. Baked it tasted just fine. If I had wanted nice, crumbly chocolate bits. I was supposed to be ending famine, wars and nuclear winter. In the end I had about one dozen presentable cookies. Hardly enough to effect global miracles.

And now children, since you have been Patient and Gentle Readers, I will make the confession. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was forced to take Home Ec in junior high school. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to learn how to sew a pink apron, or to learn how to make a white sauce. I wanted to take Print Shop. And I obviously did not listen (as Nancy Drew would have) to my teacher as she explained that there was a huge difference between the chemical qualities of baking powder and baking soda. (Not that she explained the chemistry – we were bubble-headed girls after all…) World Peace Cookies recipe called for baking soda. I had used baking powder.

I suppose this could be my Proustian moment. I was forced to recall my childhood, and all the joys of junior high school.

The next batch was perfect. Go to the link below to see how my cookies should have looked. How your cookies can look. Peace!

I read about a great way to save $12 in the New York Times on Wednesday: by not buying $12 cookie purée from the Tumbador Chocolate Shop in Brooklyn. Instead I whacked the first batch of cookies into cookie crumble with a rolling pin, and now have a container of sweet chocolate World Peace Crumble to sprinkle over ice cream.

“The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it….” but “….as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me …. immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents.”

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
‘Remembrance of Things Past’

Talbot Humane Introduces Bark Week

Talbot Humane is playing on the Discovery Channel’s popular “Shark Week” by introducing its own “Bark Week” celebration October 14-18, leading up to the 4th annual Bark in the Bark festival on October 19 at Idlewild Park in Easton.

Bark Week features a series of community events at Easton and St. Michaels businesses, showcasing and in support of Talbot Humane’s adoptable dogs.

Promotions will run Monday through Friday during Bark Week at Marcoritaville in St. Michaels and at The BBQ Joint in Easton, Wednesday at Rise Up Coffee in Easton, and Friday at the Village Shoppe in St. Michaels. Donation jars will welcome contributions at all locations.

Marcoritaville offers half-price burgers at lunchtime throughout Bark Week. Dogs from Talbot Humane visit on Monday from noon to 2 p.m., tempting diners both to adopt and to donate. Chef Mark will match the week’s donation jar contributions made at Marcoritaville.

Adoptable dogs visit The BBQ Joint on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. The eatery will offer homemade dog biscuits in support of Talbot Humane all week long. “We hear those doggie biscuits are delicious!” said Patty Crankshaw-Quimby, Talbot Humane’s executive director.

She encourages everyone to come out and get their morning cup of joe at Rise Up Coffee in Easton on Wednesday from 7 to 11 a.m. The dogs visit from 10 to 11, and Talbot Humane’s mascot, SNAPS, will stop by to greet the coffee crowd.

Bark Week concludes on Friday with a visit to the Village Shoppe in St. Michaels from noon to 6 p.m. by volunteer Pete Howell with his dog, adopted from Talbot Humane. “Be prepared to have Pete talk you into adopting,” warned Crankshaw-Quimby, “or at least coming out for Bark in the Park the next day.”

Crankshaw-Quimby thanked all four businesses for their support of Bark Week. “The Bark Week events are building excitement for Bark in the Park on Saturday,” she explained. “Having these businesses take part in the effort shows how committed our whole community is to the work Talbot Humane does for the animals of Talbot County.”

For more information, to make a contribution, or to volunteer, call Talbot Humane at 410-822-0107 or visit

President Calls Health Care a Right, Says Republicans Worried Obamacare Will Succeed

Press Release—LARGO- Days before a key provision of his health care law takes effect, President Barack Obama told an audience in Prince George’s County Thursday that affordable health care in the United States is a right and not a privilege and called on Maryland to help spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.
Obama visited Prince George’s Community College on his third trip to the county and explained to Marylanders how and where to enroll for coverage, and what health care will mean for thousands across the state and millions across the country.
“For a long time, America was the only advanced economy in the world where health care was not a right but a privilege. We spent more, we got less,” Obama said.
Starting Tuesday, uninsured Americans will be able to shop for private health insurance through state-based exchanges online. Maryland is one of 16 states and the District of Columbia that has established its own marketplace with competitive rates, run with their own regulations.
The 34 remaining states will use the country-wide insurance marketplace, run by the federal government. Coverage starts on Jan. 1.
“If you’re one of 45 million Americans with a mental illness, you’re covered,” Obama said. “If you lose your job, and your healthcare with it, you’re covered.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to give middle and low-income Americans access to affordable health care, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people due to their pre-existing conditions.
“We’re the wealthiest nation on earth. No one should go broke because they get sick,” Obama said. “Five days from now, on Oct. 1, millions of Americans that don’t have health insurance … they will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance.”
The president addressed the backlash to Obamacare from the Republican Party. The act was signed into law on March 23, 2010, but Republicans have fought the implementation of the law every step of the way.
Most recently, some GOP legislators are using an upcoming debt ceiling deadline to bargain for a one-year year delay of some provisions of the law.
“The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. Republicans in Congress have voted over 40 times to repeal it … At every step, they’ve been unsuccessful,” Obama said.
While he praised Republican governors in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Ohio for expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, Obama asked what all the fuss was about from the other side of the aisle.
“Over the past few years the Republican Party has just split itself up over this issue… they’re not worried about whether it’s going to fail, they’re worried about if it’s going to succeed,” Obama said.
Maryland State Delegate Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, who is running for governor, said he doesn’t believe in the social model of Obamacare. He said Maryland should have a free-market exchange system where the state opens up its borders to insurance companies from other states.
“Competition is the best regulator of pricing and quality,” George said.
George, who is founder of the Doctors’ Caucus, said that most physicians in Maryland are at or above retirement age, and that many are considering early retirement as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.
“The funding just isn’t there,” George said. “To implement it requires a lot more work.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, began a 21-hour speech against the law, while Obama sat with former President Bill Clinton to outline and promote Obamacare before an audience in New York during the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting.
Since he signed the law, the United States has seen the slowest growth in health care costs on record, Obama said. Many benefits from the law have already been enjoyed, like free preventative care, which includes contraceptive care, and lower cost of prescription medicine for senior citizens.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Donna Edwards and Sen. Ben Cardin, spoke before Obama arrived Thursday and reminded the crowd that on Oct. 1uninsured Marylanders can shop for 70 coverage plans from nine providers through the state’s online healthcare exchange.
“It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it’s good for us all,” Hoyer said.
Edwards said she knows what it’s like not to have health insurance and thought she was healthy when she became ill.
“Guess what, I got sick,” Edwards said. “Like so many Marylanders, I almost lost my home because I didn’t have health insurance.”
The president acknowledged that there will be “glitches” as the Affordable Care Act rolls out, but it will be smoother in states like Maryland where governors are working hard to implement it, he said.
In a Pew Research Center survey from earlier this month, opinion among uninsured Americans remains sharply divided, with 49 percent supporting the law and 46 percent opposing it. Thirty-four percent of those asked did not know if state-based health care exchanges will be available in their state, suggesting that many Americans are confused about the basics of Obamacare.
In Maryland, there are 800,000 uninsured people, said Kathleen Westcoat, CEO and president of HealthCare Access Maryland. The Baltimore-based organization received a $7.9 million grant to help consumers in central Maryland understand and enroll in health insurance.
There are 220,000 uninsured people living in the central region, including Baltimore, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County, Westcoat said, many with chronic health conditions like hypertension and diabetes. She expects 50,000 to 60,000 uninsured people to enroll in the exchange and expanded Medicaid program within the first year.
Maryland is a state that “absolutely” needs Obamacare, particularly in the central region, Westcoat said.
Danny Hayes, assistant professor of political science at George Washington University, said the success or failure of Obamacare is “something that only history can judge.”
Public opinion remains divided on Obamacare, but Hayes said that Americans have a more positive view of the bill when asked about specific aspects of it, like the denying of coverage to people with preexisting conditions and the ability for children and young adults to remain on their parents’ health plan until they are 26.
But the negative public opinions have “emboldened the Republicans and (has) given them some motivation,” Hayes said.