July 28, 2010

Lt. Gov.’s remarks were ‘misrepresented’ in Tuesday’s story on health care reform, spokesman says

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A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said the headline and angle of Tuesday’s MarylandReporter.com story “misrepresented” Lt. Governor Brown’s comments about health care reform in Maryland.

Spokesman Michael Raia said the story “attributed a single, out-of-context quotation to Lt. Governor Brown, altering the tone of his remarks and misrepresenting the [council’s] report,” and “did not provide the necessary context” to Brown’s remarks at Monday’s press conference at a Baltimore City health clinic.

The story quoted Brown as saying that in a decade, “health expenditures in Maryland will exceed the $829 million in savings,” a remark also reported by the Baltimore Business Journal.

Brown and Health Secretary John Colmers are co-chairs of  the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, which is responsible for implementing the federal health care reform legislation in Maryland. The two presented the council’s interim report to Gov. Martin O’Malley at the press conference.

Raia said: “Lt. Governor Brown announced with great enthusiasm that health care reform will save Maryland taxpayers $829 million over the next 10 years and will cut the uninsured Marylanders in half.

“He also noted that there is still work ahead to successfully implement reform and bend the cost curve so that the state can maintain savings once federal support for the Medicaid expansion is reduced from 100 to 90 percent,” Raia said.

According to the report, the savings are an estimate developed by a consultant based on a complicated series of assumptions about population, participation, employment, drug costs and federal matching rates. Some of the federal changes increase the costs to state taxpayers and some reduce the costs. The consultants estimated that the net savings could range from $621 million to $1 billion, and they chose $829 million as a midpoint.

The state currently spends $6 billion a year on Medicaid, half of it in federal tax dollars.

The executive summary of the report says: “Our health care system will soon be unsustainable, regardless of these savings, unless we succeed in improving quality while reining in the runaway growth in costs.”

–Len Lazarick and Barbara Pash