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Former Calvert County state delegate Sue Kullen was recently appointed to the board of the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

The commission is a quasi-independent agency operating within the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, according to a DHMH press release, which was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2005 to expand access to health care services in underserved communities in the state. Kullen is one of 11 members, who serve on a volunteer basis, appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and confirmed by the senate.

“I really love health care policy, so it’s a way for me to continue to serve my community,” Kullen said.

Kullen said the committee has funds to give out in terms of grants and special projects for communities to solve their health care needs.

“We basically are in charge of the social safety network of health care around the state,” she said.

Since its inception, according to the press release, the commission has awarded 110 grants, totaling $22.6 million, supporting programs in every jurisdiction in the state. The programs have collectively provided health care services for more than 105,000 Maryland residents and enabled its grantees to leverage $10 million in additional federal and private or non-profit resources, the press release states.

“It will be wonderful to work with Sue Kullen on the commission,” John A. Hurson, chairman of the commission, said in a written statement. “Sue Kullen’s expertise in rural and public health issues will greatly contribute to the work of the commission in the coming weeks and months.”

The commission is working with DHMH to implement the administration’s Health Enterprise Zones Initiative, a four-year pilot program that provides a range of incentives to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations and among geographic areas; improve health care access and health outcomes in underserved communities; and reduce health care costs and hospital admissions and re-admissions, the press release states. Following a call for proposals issued by the commission in October 2012, the state designated Prince George’s County, west Baltimore, St. Mary’s County, Dorchester and Caroline counties and Anne Arundel County and Annapolis as health enterprise zones.

The commission also is working with DHMH and others to help promote the capacity of safety net providers as Maryland implements the Affordable Care Act, the press release states.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com