Maryland Lawmakers Would Include Health Care Cuts

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State lawmakers in Maryland on Thursday presented an additional $440million in cuts from the state budget proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley(D), including $32 million in cuts from Medicaid spending, the Washington Timesreports. To address the estimated $1.7 billion budget shortfall forfiscal year 2009, the House lawmakers' plan would make cuts toMedicaid, stem cell research, teacher retirement payments for educatorsand higher education funding. Lawmakers are participating in a specialsession convened by O'Malley to consider his budget proposals,according to the Times (LoBianco, Washington Times, 11/2).

Ajoint Senate-House hearing on Thursday addressed the governor's healthcare proposal. O'Malley's health care plan would increase subsidies tosmall businesses providing coverage to workers and raise theeligibility for Medicaid to include parents with incomes less than 116%of the federal poverty level. The same eligibility requirements couldapply to childless adults. Governors' aides testifying at the hearingsaid the measures would counter the effects of rising health carecosts, citing the fact that 800,000 state residents lack coverage.

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Opponentssay the proposal is a way for O'Malley to curry support for highertaxes. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R) said, "I believe it has more to dowith politics than it does policy. In the end, all roads lead to highertaxes" (Smitherman, Baltimore Sun, 11/2).

Editorial

"It's time for members of the General Assembly to start askingquestions about the ways in which illegal aliens could obtain benefitsthrough O'MalleyCare," according to a Washington Timeseditorial. "O'Malley claims they cannot, pointing out that illegalaliens are ineligible for Medicaid," but "given how illegalalien-friendly the governor and most General Assembly Democrats havebeen, ... a measure of skepticism is in order," the editorialcontinues. The Assembly must "begin asking serious questions about whatsafeguards the O'Malley administration would institute to preventillegals from benefiting from the governor's health plan," it concludes(Washington Times, 11/2).

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