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Health Care Plan Appeals to One Vocal Critic

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has finally found something about the legislature's two-week-old special session that he likes.

Franchot, a former Montgomery County delegate, sent a letter yesterday to the chairman of the House's health committee offering praise for a plan that would expand Medicaid coverage for adults and offer subsidies to help some small businesses extend benefits to their employees.

"I look forward to finally seeing this needed reform enacted into law," Franchot wrote to Del. Peter A. Hammen (D-Baltimore).

Not so shockingly, Franchot sees a possibility related to the plan that he does not like. More on that later. First, a recap of some of what Franchot does not like about the session -- starting with the session itself.

The comptroller has said repeatedly that he thinks it was a mistake for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to summon lawmakers to Annapolis this fall to close a looming budget shortfall of at least $1.5 billion.

Franchot was among those who said the General Assembly could wait to address the budget until its regular 90-day session in January, given the uncertainty of revenue projections and the fact that the budget is balanced through the end of the fiscal year in June.

Last week, Franchot sent a letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), voicing his displeasure with a late-emerging Senate plan to apply the sales tax to computer services.

"Adding a tax provision of this magnitude to legislation at the 11th hour -- without the courtesy of advance notice, the benefit of meaningful public input or sufficient understanding of its effects -- plays into the hands of those who would unfairly question Maryland's business climate," Franchot wrote.

Franchot has also been perhaps the most vocal opponent of O'Malley's plan to raise revenue by legalizing slot machines, appearing at rallies and holding news conferences on the issue.

That brings us back to the letter to Hammen on health care.

O'Malley has proposed a less frugal health-care plan if a public referendum legalizing slots is not approved next year and revenue does not materialize.

"I do wish to express my opposition to any effort to link this health care plan with slot machine gambling," Franchot wrote to Hammen. "Health care reform should be paid for with a tax increase on tobacco -- a funding source that saves lives."

By Phyllis Jordan  |  November 11, 2007; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Next: Coming Up In Maryland Politics

Comments

I'll ask again - stop saying "looming budget shortfall". Say possible, say probable, say overspending-caused shortfall, just not "looming". Nothing is looming (that is, except a ridiculous amount of new taxes and a fat, fat fat cookie jar for our pols to play with...)

Posted by: jj | November 11, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

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