HOGAN URGES CHILDREN’s HEALTH PROGRAM FUNDING: Gov. Larry Hogan is breaking with Republicans in Congress on yet another health-care issue — the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which will run out of funds in March, jeopardizing the health coverage of 140,000 Maryland children, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. A spokeswoman for Hogan (R) said the administration has been working with the National Governors Association to urge Congress to take bipartisan action to ensure funding for the program.
- In the meantime, open enrollment begins today for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and officials are urging those in need of coverage to shop around. Two insurers are offering plans for 2018, but average premium prices are soaring by double digits for most plans to reflect costs as well as the Trump administration’s policy changes to the federal health law known as Obamacare, Meredith Cohn writes in the Sun.
LOW HOSPITAL SAFETY RANKING: Maryland hospitals rank near the bottom nationwide when it comes to avoiding medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections, according to a new assessment by the Leapfrog Group. Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes that the assessment generally drew a reserved response from area hospital administrators, who say safety is a top priority and they are always working to do better.
GENERIC DRUG PRICE GOUGING: If you have been the victim of price gouging for generic drugs, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) wants to hear from you. Ovetta Wiggins writes in the Post that Frosh is joining with Maryland Healthcare for All, a health-care advocacy group, to identify possible victims of price gouging, a move made possible by a new state law allowing the attorney general to sue drug companies that dramatically increase the price of off-patent or generic drugs.
- “Generic drugs have been one of the few bargains in American health care for generations,” Tim Curtis of the Daily Record quotes Frosh as saying. “In recent years, the prices of generic drugs have started to skyrocket.”
METRO BILL: Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post reports that Maryland would pay about $64 million more than it did for the current fiscal year under the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s proposed budget, which will not include any fare increases or cuts to service, but also will not include measures such as extending all trains out to the end of the Red Line at Shady Grove.
OYSTER SANCTUARIES: It’s been five months and there’s still no decision on where two new oyster sanctuaries will be located within Maryland, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital. In May, the Oyster Advisory Commission asked Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton to choose the next two locations after its members failed to come to a consensus. The commission was tasked with selecting two new oyster sanctuaries in Maryland as part of a state commitment under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.
FROSH ASKS SUPREMES TO REJECT CASE: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that state Attorney General Brian Frosh stated in papers filed Tuesday with the Supreme Court that the court should reject a challenge by Maryland Republicans that the Democratic-led General Assembly unconstitutionally gerrymandered a congressional district because the GOP cannot show it was redrawn to replace a Republican U.S. representative with a Democratic one.
FROSH HIRES OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR FAA SUIT: Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh prepares to sue the Federal Aviation Administration over new, lower flight paths causing more noise for surrounding neighborhoods, he has hired a law firm that won a similar suit in Phoenix, reports Colin Campbell in the Sun.
FARM FOOD FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES: In a Maryland Reporter commentary, Alicia LaPorte writes that Maryland has the opportunity to move forward on a win-win program that directly invests in farmers throughout the state and helps low-income families purchase local and farm-fresh food. But we need Gov. Larry Hogan’s support to ensure the program receives funding.
KIRWAN DELAY BAD FOR CARROLL: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times opines that it was disappointing, although perhaps not surprising, to learn last week that the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, more commonly known as the Kirwan Commission, is not going to meet its Dec. 31 deadline to present ideas for a new state funding formula for schools. The delay is not good for Carroll County schools.
HEALTH OFFICIAL RESIGNS: The Sun’s Michael Dresser reports that a high-ranking official at the Maryland health department who was found in civil contempt of court in September has left his job overseeing psychiatric services. Dr. Erik Roskes, director of the Behavioral Health Administration’s Office of Forensic Services, recently resigned, the department confirmed. A department spokeswoman would not say whether the resignation was voluntary. Reached at home, Roskes declined to comment.
- In September, Roskes was one of five officials at the department who were held in civil contempt of court by Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin after she ruled the department had not acted sufficiently to move defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial to state hospitals, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
FORMER DELEGATE TALKS ADDICTION: Former Del. Matt Mossburg recounts in the National Review his struggle with addiction and offers some solution. He writes, “When asked to testify before the Maryland legislature on Governor Larry Hogan’s bills to combat the state’s opioid epidemic, I experienced a feeling of panic. A small circle of former colleagues already knew my story: I’m the former Maryland house member some saw as a rising political star who wound up destitute and homeless. But now, my tale of opioid addiction would no longer be the subject of private conversations at political gatherings.”
WA CO CONSIDERS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES: Revisiting the Washington County weed ordinance and concerns about trucks parking overnight or for the weekend in front of businesses were raised recently as the Washington County Board of Commissioners discussed priorities for the 2018 state legislative session. Julie Greene writes in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail that whether those two issues would need to be addressed by state legislation wasn’t clear yet, but the commissioners asked staff members to look into both matters.
HOGAN POLL NUMBERS DOWN: Gov. Larry Hogan is still the second most popular governor in the U.S. (never the most popular, as some Republicans inaccurately state), but his rating has slipped in the most recently online polling by Morning Consult. Almost all governors have dropped slightly in the third quarter, the pollsters report. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Marylanders approve of the job Hogan is doing, while 18% disapprove. In April, Hogan’s numbers were 73% approve and 16% disapprove. Hogan is still edged by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, another Republican chief executive of a Democratic state. America’s least popular governor is Hogan’s buddy, New Jersey’s Chris Christie at 77% disapprove, a record low for these online pollsters. MarylandReporter.com
STATE DEMS BACK MUELLER: Maryland Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday expressed confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller in response to the indictments of Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and George Papadopoulos revealed on Monday, presumably the first in the ongoing investigation into the 2016 election and Donald Trump’s campaign, Capital News Service is reporting. “Mr. Mueller should have free leeway to pursue the facts and determine whether there’s any further accountability in regards to those contacts,” Sen. Ben Cardin said in an interview.
TIME TO GIVE: This week, as it celebrates its 8th birthday, MarylandReporter.com is launching its participation in News Match 2017, a $3 million collaboration between Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support nonprofit news organizations. MarylandReporter.com is one of more than 100 U.S. news organizations eligible to receive up to $28,000 each in matching funding for all individual donations up to $1,000 received by Dec. 31.
MO CO STATE’s ATTY RACE: With the exception of a couple of electoral brawls in the 1990s, the quadrennial race for Montgomery County state’s attorney has rarely attracted much voter attention. The current incumbent, John McCarthy, has faced little or no opposition in winning renomination and re-election in recent years. However, Thomas DeGonia, an assistant state’s attorney for eight years under McCarthy’s predecessor, Doug Gansler, is preparing to give McCarthy his first Democratic primary challenge since his initial election in 2006, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Beat.
ANNAPOLIS MAYOR’s RACE: Karen Hosler of WYPR-FM reports on the Annapolis mayor’s race, writing that this year’s race for the post of Annapolis mayor is a spirited competition between two candidates more sharply different in style than on substance. As their many debate spectators could attest, the contest might be dubbed: the Idea Man versus Mr. Not So Fast. Democratic challenger Gavin Buckley has sparked the campaign with a fire storm of proposals for updating Maryland’s 300-year-old capital city. Republican Mayor Mike Pantelides dismisses many of them as half-baked.
GLENDENING ADMITS TO ‘HUGE MISTAKE:’ Former Gov. Parris Glendening (D) says the decision to locate the College Park Metro station off campus was a “huge mistake, made on my watch.” Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes that the decision was made during the 1980s when Glendening, a longtime University of Maryland professor, was serving as Prince George’s County executive. It happened, he told a campus symposium this week, in part because both the school and the community had public safety concerns.
CEMETERY PROTECTION IN MO CO: The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to inventory and protect old cemeteries that could be affected by new development. The legislation directs the county’s Planning Board to create a list of burial sites, to be updated at least annually. It also amends county law to require applicants who want to subdivide a property to research the boundaries of burial sites on their land and, in most cases, protect them from development, Rachel Chason reports for the Post.
AIRBnB HIRES EX-MAYOR: Former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has joined an Airbnb advisory board as the accommodation rental company continues to battle with the hotel industry over how it ought to be regulated, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun. Rawlings-Blake, who departed City Hall last year, joins former mayors of Rome and Houston who serve as paid members of a Mayoral Advisory Board at the company. She said she was excited to join the board so she could find ways for cities to benefit from Airbnb.