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A rendering of Prince George's County Regional Medical Center. (Courtesy Dimensions Healthcare System)

Hogan announces funds for new P.G. hospital; Miller, Baker want more

ANNAPOLIS — Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center will receive $55 million in bridge funding and more than $100 million in additional construction funds as part of a supplemental budget announced Friday by Gov. Larry Hogan.

“It’s been a long, sad story about the Prince George’s hospital system,” Hogan said. “This, we believe, is a tremendous solution to decades of problems there.”

Under the plan announced by the governor, the state will provide $55 million to the hospital as it transitions into a new medical center operated by the University of Maryland Medical System. The state also will contribute $135 million for construction, which includes $27.5 million already allocated.

The governor’s plan provides $15 million in operating funds in fiscal 2017, and calls for the remaining $40 million to be allocated by fiscal 2021.

Hogan’s announcement comes days after Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, a Democrat, accused the governor of walking away from an agreement between the state, county and medical system to fund the hospital.

Hogan should have included a $15 million operating subsidy for Dimensions Healthcare, which runs the existing Prince George’s Hospital Center, in the budgets for both the current and upcoming fiscal year because Dimensions needs that funding to stay afloat, Baker said Wednesday.

Lawmakers added $15 million for the operating subsidy to the fiscal 2016 budget during last year’s session, but Hogan did not release those funds.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, both Democrats, introduced a bill this session that would mandate the funding for the hospital. Miller, whose district includes a portion of Prince George’s, told reporters Wednesday that if he the governor didn’t commit to provide the operating funds by next week, he would move the bill forward.

The bill called for $55 million in total operating subsidies by fiscal 2021 and $143 million in capital funding over that period.

Hogan told reporters Friday that he’d previously indicated to Miller that he would likely provide the operating funds, and that he assumed the bill was now obsolete.

“I have no idea what that was all about, frankly,” Hogan said.

Economic driver

Miller told reporters Friday he was “very pleased” with the governor’s supplemental budget, but that he would still like to see Hogan release the $15 million set aside by lawmakers for the current fiscal year.

Miller also said there needed to be a new memorandum of understanding, like the one signed in 2011 by the state, county and medical system to support the new hospital.

Baker told reporters Friday that Hogan’s supplemental budget doesn’t go far enough and won’t guarantee that the existing hospital can continue to operate. Baker also called for the release of the fiscal 2016 money.

“Had he done that, I would consider that progress,” Baker said, adding that the governor is only promising half of what’s needed. “[This] doesn’t get us all the way we need to go.”

Baker also called for the governor to either sign a new MOU or support the bills introduced by Busch and Miller.

Bob Chrencik, CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System, joined Hogan at Friday morning’s announcement and said the system had been working with the governor since last year to make sure the new hospital gets built.

“We think what the governor has put together here is really what will make that happen,” Chrencik said. “We think it can be a new day for health care in Prince George’s County.”

The proposed $650 million Prince George’s Regional Medical Center in Largo will replace the aging hospital in Cheverly and serve as an economic driver for the county, officials said.

Dr. Stephen T. Bartlett, executive vice president of UMMS, told the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee at a hearing Wednesday that each year about 22,000 residents of Prince George’s County and 7,000 from southern Maryland go to Washington, D.C., for their medical care.

“For every 5,000 patients that are brought back to Prince George’s County we will generate 800 new jobs. We speculate that within three years we will bring at least 10,000 of those patients back, if not more, creating more than 1,600 new jobs,” Bartlett said.

The new hospital will bring new offices, restaurants, and housing as well as new tax dollars for the state, Baker told reporters Wednesday.