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Hogan: UMMS leaders did ‘more listening than talking’

Bryan P. Sears//March 21, 2019

Hogan: UMMS leaders did ‘more listening than talking’

By Bryan P. Sears

//March 21, 2019

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks Monday, March 18, in Annapolis. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)
Gov. Larry Hogan speaking Monday, March 18, in Annapolis. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he believes a clear message was sent to leaders of the University of Maryland Medical System who came to Annapolis a day earlier amid concerns members of the board have benefited from contracts with the organization they oversee.

Hogan and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. met with Stephen Burch, chairman of the medical system board, and Robert Chrencik, president of the system, for an hour Wednesday in the governor’s office in the State House. Miller described Hogan as “exercised” about reports of potential self-dealing among nine of the 30 board members, including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

“I would say I was pretty forceful and direct, and they were doing more listening than talking, but I think they got the message that we were serious,” said Hogan.

Hogan did not speak to reporters Wednesday following the meeting.

Thursday night, in brief comments to reporters inside the governor’s official residence, Hogan spoke briefly of the meeting and broadly characterized the conversation.

“I would describe it as a very direct, very forceful meeting where we left no uncertainty about our concerns about some of the things that have been going on with the (medical system) board and some of the decisions that were made,” said Hogan. “We told them we were going to have to get some answers and get some solutions. I think they realized at the end of the hour-long meeting that things were going to have to change and decisions were going to have to be made.”

Hogan did not talk about specific responses he got from Burch and Chrencik.

Miller, in comments to reporters early Thursday, described a meeting with few satisfying answers from the medical system officials.

“Apparently there was no oversight on the audit committee, and the audit committee made decisions,” said Miller. “There were certain personnel who should have been there. Who wrote the check, who told them to write the check? That wasn’t answered. Hopefully, we’ll have those answers.”

Miller said Hogan wanted to push the issue of Pugh’s book deal with the system “very strongly,”

“I asked the question also, why did it continue and they said, ‘She continued to write more books,”‘ said Miller.

By Thursday, the board announced that Chrencik would take a leave of absence. Four other board members who have contracts with the system are on leave and being scrutinized. Three other members, including Pugh, have resigned from the board.

House Speaker Michael Busch, a 16-year member of the board, introduced emergency legislation in the House Thursday morning to reform some of the board’s policies and to require legislative approval of board members. That bill will get a hearing in the Health and Government Operations Committee Friday morning. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year in the Senate.

Hogan said the board actions and the legislation “are just the start. We’re going to get to the bottom of this and get it resolved and make sure these kinds of things never take place again.”



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