Maryland US House members criticize governor on health care


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Four of Maryland’s U.S. House members took the battle over health care to the governor’s residence Monday, calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to speak out against the GOP health care bill in Washington.

A spokeswoman for the Republican governor said the four Democrats should be in the nation’s capital working instead of “grandstanding” in the state capital.

Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes and Jamie Raskin gathered in front of the governor’s residence next to the Maryland State House to criticize Hogan for not joining four GOP governors who’ve made their own proposal about how to overhaul Medicaid for low-income people.

“There are people right now who are sick and are sitting there worried whether they’re going to be one of the 14 million who won’t be able to get the health care that they need, not just to survive but also to thrive, governor. This is not rocket scientists’ stuff. This is about leadership,” Cummings said.

Amelia Chasse, a Hogan spokeswoman, questioned what the four congressmen have done, except hold news conferences. She said Hogan has had multiple meetings with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and has another scheduled with him Wednesday.

“Instead of wasting time playing politics and holding press conferences in Annapolis, these Congressmen should be in Washington doing their jobs,” Chasse said.

Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said he’s urging Hogan to join the Republican governors of Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and Arkansas. They are calling for a more gradual approach to overhauling Medicaid that would include more options for states.

Sarbanes noted that a vote is expected Thursday in Washington. He said he believed Hogan could have an impact on persuading Republicans in Washington that the legislation is “a bad idea,” if he joined the other four GOP governors.

Chasse, Hogan’s spokeswoman, said the congressmen “are disregarding the governor’s direct appeal to them to work in a bipartisan manner to come up with responsible solutions for Maryland.”

“The governor and the administration are fighting to ensure that Maryland’s priorities are protected under any federal health care plan — it’s time for our federal representatives to do the same,” Chasse said.

Republican Govs. John Kasich, of Ohio, Rick Snyder, of Michigan, Brian Sandoval, of Nevada, and Asa Hutchinson, of Arkansas, have said the House approach “provides almost no new flexibility for states, does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states.”

Under current law, states can expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,640 for an individual. The federal government picks up almost all of the cost, gradually phasing down to a 90 percent share. The House bill would end Medicaid expansion. States can continue to receive the higher federal rate only for those enrolled by Dec. 31, 2019. Under the four GOP governors proposal, states that expanded Medicaid could also keep receiving the higher federal rate for new enrollees into the future if they agree to make other changes to their programs. Maryland is one of 31 states that expanded Medicaid.

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