August 21, 2012

State Roundup, August 21, 2012

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HIKE IN SOME HOSPITAL RATES SUGGESTED: Maryland hospitals and regulators are discussing raising hospital prices for private insurers and businesses by hundreds of millions of dollars a year to make up for suggested cuts from Medicare and Medicaid, reports Jay Hancock for the Post.

CARE ACT A BOON TO SOME: Catherine Ho of the Post reports that the Affordable Care Act is proving to be a boon for professional services firms, with Maryland and the District awarding millions of dollars in contracts to health care consulting and actuarial firms to study and advise on ACA-related provisions, including creating state-run health insurance exchanges.

THE REFERENDUMS: Aaron Davis of the Post writes that Maryland released the text of its November ballot yesterday, and from the governor on down, officials offered one warning: Homework required.

The questions ask voters to support or oppose three constitutional amendments and four laws that passed the General Assembly, reports Earl Kelly for the Capital-Gazette.

In another story for the Capital-Gazette, Kelly quotes St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly, as saying, “The one group affected by all four of the questions is the African-American community. These questions are going to cut across Democratic constituency groups and cause some conflict.”

VETERANS SLOTS: In an opinion piece for Maryland Juice, Del. Doyle Niemann of Prince George’s slams the provision of the gambling law that would allow slots in veterans halls, saying that because there is no definition of veterans, many organizations could qualify.

FRANCHOT URGES A NO VOTE: There was no question about the campaign Comptroller Peter Franchot launched in Cambridge last week, encouraging community leaders to vote against expanding casino gaming in Maryland this November, Gail Dean writes in the Cecil Whig.

PSC HEARING: Only one nonofficial spoke at a Maryland Public Service Commission meeting last night in Frederick County designed to get information on the performance of Potomac Edison during a storm on June 29 that left thousands without power. And those officials had nothing but praise for the company.

MISSING EQUIPMENT: The Executive Department and governor’s office had missing computer equipment, improper handling of cash receipts and unreliable inventory records, state auditors found, and some of the problems had been uncovered in previous audits, Tricia McCarter-Joseph reports for MarylandReporter.com.

CARDIN ON POLITICS: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin speaks with Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM yesterday on the Romney-Ryan team’s proposals for Medicare; why gun control has become such a political non-starter in the wake of mass shootings, even for candidates with safe seats; and the government’s preparation for extreme weather related to climate change.

PALIN FOR BONGINO: Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Republican Dan Bongino in his race against U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) in a move that one political observer said could help fundraising but not winning the election, Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

MARYLAND AMONG MOST CHARITABLE: Maryland is among the most charitable states in the United States, according to a new “How America Gives” study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Maryland and North Carolina are the only two Democratic states to rank in the Top 10, writes Ryan Sharrow for the Baltimore Business Journal.

ON THE HOOK: Deliberate misbehavior by Anne Arundel County employees could leave them on the hook for the county’s legal costs under a new bill introduced last night, one of two bills proposed in reaction to two pending federal lawsuits against the county filed over the conduct of County Executive John Leopold, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.

WICOMICO DISTRICTING: The Wicomico County Council is expected to continue discussing the pros and cons of a proposed council redistricting plan today, following last night’s public hearing, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.