ANNAPOLIS — Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation rallied outside the governor’s mansion Monday, calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to lend his voice to an effort to oppose a proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Opponents of the repeal estimate that as many as 400,000 people in Maryland could lose their insurance and the state could lose more than $1 billion in federal funding under a plan working its way through Congress. A handful of Republican governors from Arkansas, Massachusetts and Ohio, among other states, have already expressed concerns about the potentially dire consequences should the repeal not offer an alternative for millions of people covered under expansions of Medicaid.
“We have come to your house,” Cummings said, directing his comments at Hogan, who was not in attendance. “We have come to your house, governor. We have come to your house, not to ask you to pick up the phone or visit President (Donald) Trump. We’ve come to beg you because asking is too cheap.”
A vote on the Republican plan, known as the American Health Care Act, could come as early as Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cummings joined fellow Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer, Jamie Raskin and John Sarbanes at an hour-long rally they billed as a news conference but a spokeswoman for the governor called a publicity stunt.
“Instead of wasting time playing politics and holding press conferences in Annapolis, these congressmen should be in Washington doing their jobs,” Amelia Chassé, a Hogan spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This type of grandstanding is exactly why Marylanders and Americans are sick of politicians and why Congress has an approval rating in the single digits.
“Moreover, these members are disregarding the governor’s direct appeal to them to work in a bipartisan manner to come up with responsible solutions for Maryland,” Chassé added. “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.”
Chassé cited examples of Hogan’s efforts including:
- Holding a January meeting with the state’s federal delegation where he called for a bipartisan effort to reach a solution.
- Joining other governors at a February meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and administration officials. Chassé said Hogan is scheduled to meet with Price again Wednesday.
- “Near daily” talks between Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dennis Schrader and officials in Washington. Additionally, Chassé said Schrader has held multiple meetings with delegation members or their staffs, and has regular meetings and conference calls with other state health officials.
Chassé added that Schrader requested multiple meetings with Sarbanes and that a letter to the delegation from Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer had not been responded to.
In January, Hogan sent a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., holding up the state as a model that could be replicated around the country. The letter does not take a stand on federal repeal and replace efforts.
Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Health Care for All, called on Hogan to take the next step.
“The more Republican governors say this, the more pressure will be put on Congress to not pass this horrible bill,” DeMarco said. “In light of the letter that Larry Hogan wrote to Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 13, there’s no reason for him not to take the next step.”