Prince George’s County Hospital Funding Update

So when we last checked in, Gov. Hogan and UMMS President Chrencik had come to an understanding about the funding Dimensions Healthcare needed in order to complete the transfer to UMMS, but County Executive Baker was complaining that it wasn’t enough.

One of the things CE Baker was insisting upon was an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).  Apparently there were some negotiations going on behind closed doors towards an MOU.  However, on March 2, Senate President Mike Miller submarined those efforts by forcing SB 324 through the Senate. His explanation for his behavior? It was taking too long.  He also took exception to the lawyers’ point that an MOU is not legally binding, which it isn’t.  An MOU is nice, but essentially it’s just a promise on paper.

Governor Hogan responded on Facebook:

As a result of his impatience and incredible shortsightedness, Senate President Miller may have single-handedly wrecked the work that has gone into a carefully crafted agreement between the state, county, UMMS and Dimensions to ensure that people of Prince George’s County would have access to high quality healthcare. Any claims that this bill is in the best interest of Marylanders is pretense. President Miller reneged on a promise. The senator had committed to work with the administration to ensure that the MOU would get done and that all parties could continue to negotiate in good faith to find a solution to this issue. Instead, Senator Miller has opted for a hastily-crafted, one-size-fits-all bill that mandates more state spending but fails to hold Prince George’s County, the University of Maryland Medical System, Dimensions, or anyone else accountable for the success of the new Medical Center in Prince George’s County. It’s a waste of time, it’s pure politics and another step in the wrong direction.

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Make no mistake, Senator Miller is ticked off that Hogan hasn’t kowtowed to him. He doesn’t understand why Hogan’s approval ratings are still so high. Miller’s been in the MD Senate for over 40 years, and, as Senate President for the last 29 years, he’s used to running things.  Hogan is threatening Miller’s power base, and Miller doesn’t know how to react. So things like the now-withdrawn attempt to take over the state school superintendent approval process, the fight over transportation funding, and the override of every one of the Governor’s vetoes last year, these are all part of Miller’s political posturing – much like a body-builder flexing his muscles.

So now SB 324 is in the House Appropriations committee while it’s twin sister HB 309 is headed for a second reading in the House of Delegates tomorrow. Please contact your Delegates, especially those in the Appropriations committee, and tell them to vote this down. We need to allow Governor Hogan to continue to hammer out the details with UMMS, and CE Baker.

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