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Best Week, Worst Week: Outlook brighter for Evergreen; PG hospital suffers funding blow

best-worst-012117Evergreen Health made strides this week in its effort to become a for-profit insurance company, while the proposed Prince George’s Regional Medical Center took a $22.5 million hit in the form of proposed budget cuts.

Business writer Anamika Roy reported Wednesday that Evergreen’s agreement with investors to finance its capital needs will put the health insurance company in a better financial position as it transitions away from affiliation with the Affordable Care Act co-op.

The deal makes the 26,000-member company the only one of the 23 co-ops created under President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation to repay its loan from the federal government. Evergreen received a $65 million loan to join the co-op program, including $13 million in startup costs and $52 million in reserves.

It also includes $3.2 million to buy Evergreen out of the co-op program entirely and get out from under the purview of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency that regulates government health care programs.

Now with more sound financial footing, Evergreen and its investors will apply to become a for-profit company, subject to approval by the Maryland Insurance Administration, which said more competition in the health insurance marketplace results in lower prices and more benefits for consumers.

And while money for health care was going to Evergreen this week, it was coming out for the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center, targeted for cuts by Gov. Larry Hogan in his proposed budget.

The Capital News Service reported Thursday that Hogan’s proposed budget cuts mandated funding for the center by $15 million while a separate line in the budget takes another $7.5 million hit.

The cuts are the latest in a sparring match over the hospital between Hogan and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., whose district includes part of Prince George’s County. Miller, though. assured lawmakers the money would be restored – “We’ll find a way to to make it happen this year,” Miller said — before lawmakers adjourn in April.

Miller and the Democratic-controlled legislature have disagreed with the Republican governor over how to pay for the hospital center, which is scheduled to open in 2020 and is owned and operated by the University of Maryland Medical System. David Brinkley, Hogan’s budget secretary, said the budget action isn’t intended to hold the project back in the long term.