Analysis: Health Exchange Mess Part I: Failures in leadership

April 9, 2014

In a two-part series Thursday and Friday, retired auditor Charles Hayward (full bio below) delves into the problems that led to a disastrous launch of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in fall 2013. Among the chief failings of state leadership: not addressing serious red flags when there may have been enough time to fix the root causes; not appreciating the monumental tasks assigned to limited resources; and (3) not selecting one IT expert to take leadership on the website’s development. [...more]

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Rascovar column: Stonewalling Md. Health Exchange probe

April 5, 2014

The Maryland General Assembly concludes its 2014 session Monday in good shape – except for one monumental omission: the mystery surrounding Maryland’s fatally flawed health exchange, which has squandered uncounted tens of millions of dollars. It’s now clear that both Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown are content to stonewall and impede any detailed investigation of what went wrong in setting up the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange until well after the June 24 primary election. [...more]

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$10.10 minimum wage passes Senate committee

April 2, 2014

The Senate Finance Committee approved a $10.10 minimum wage for most Maryland workers, but extended the increases over the next four years, rather than three as the House of Delegates had done. The bill also ties the minimum wage to increased state reimbursement for disability support workers, who currently average $9.82 per hour. [...more]

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Rascovar: When Obamacare website failed, Oregon took a different approach than Md.

March 30, 2014

Oregon's website for the Affordable Care Act failed in many of the same ways as Maryland's but the governor there ordered an independent probe and dealt with the problems differently than Maryland officials have. [...more]

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Minimum wage hike could be spread over 5 years, tied to raise for disability workers

March 26, 2014

In a compromise that could possibly move a stalled minimum wage hike out of committee, Senate Finance Chair Thomas Mac Middleton said he has been working on a potential agreement with the governor to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next five years instead of three. This would also make it easier for the state to increase compensation for disability workers above the new minimum. [...more]

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Rascovar: Is a higher minimum wage counter-productive?

March 23, 2014

Democratic politicians in Annapolis are eager to pass an increase in the minimum wage. But recent studies found that even jump in the minimum wage by 10% -- much lower than proposed here -- will have a significant negative impact on future job hiring. [...more]

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Union protesters arrested at State House

March 14, 2014

Fourteen people had themselves intentionally arrested on the stone steps of the Maryland State House Thursday -- part of a larger group who were protesting the low wages of restaurant and retail workers at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. [...more]

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Rascovar column: Maryland’s Obamacare fiasco continues

March 2, 2014

How high will it go? How much more will it cost the O’Malley-Brown administration to fix or totally replace the dysfunctional online health insurance system that it bragged about until the software crashed on Day One? It already is the most costly debacle in state history. [...more]

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Treasurer, comptroller urge senators to restore $100M cut in pension funding

February 27, 2014

In unusual joint testimony, Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, chair and vice-chair of the state pension board, pleaded with Senate budgeters not to permanently cut $100 million in state payments to the retirement system. They said the cut proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley had high long-term repercussions and undermined the state's credibility with bond rating agencies by reneging on promises made in 2011 pension reforms. [...more]

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Inmate calls are blocked, and so are some outside the jail walls

February 9, 2014

Blocking inmate calls from cell phones they're not supposed to have is a good idea. Blocking cell phone use on busy city streets outside the jail is not so great. [...more]

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