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Baltimore Sun Newsmaker Forum: An Evening with Anthony Brown

24 Jan

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending this event where Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown shared his vision for moving Maryland forward and fielded some heavy questions from the moderator, Baltimore Sun’s editorial page editor Andrew A. Green, event and online participants.
I am reporting a summary of the evening and as with any blog post, I did a little research. I concluded that Anthony Brown is the man he says he is and the statements and facts presented here are intended to give you amazing readers an opportunity to make an informed decision on why Anthony G. Brown should be Maryland’s next Governor. Happy reading and don’t forget to comment!

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I walked in as Lt. Governor Anthony Brown was speaking about healthcare as it relates to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, Health Information Exchange (HIE), Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs), and the Maryland Medicaid Waiver.

Affordable Care Act & the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange

Anthony Brown is a strong advocate for the ACA as now Marylanders can purchase affordable health care and not be turned down for pre existing conditions.

In regards to the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange Anthony stated that so far they have enrolled 175k since the site launched on  10/1/13. Anthony publicly apologized for the trouble some users faced in purchasing insurance plans. He expressed that he was deeply disappointed with the issues the site was having as the site was set up with a board and staff, and it was not until one week before the launch that he learned there would be volume issues.

Anthony has spoken with residents across Maryland who thanked the Administration for continuing to make progress on healthcare issues and how importation the Affordable Care Act is for their families as Maryland expects leaders that will continue get the job done.
Anthony acknowledged that this was an opportunity to reevaluate and make appropriate changes concerning the site so that in March, Marylanders can purchase insurance from the federal site.

Health Information Exchange

The Maryland Health Information Exchange took effect in October 2010 and connects all 48 Maryland hospitals, laboratories, doctors, and radiology centers to exchange patient information. The Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients (CRISP), is a non profit organization that was selected by Maryland Health Care Commission to manage the Health Information Exchange. They have reported that there are measures in place to protect patient privacy while allowing physicians real time access to records. Ideally, the record sharing will help doctors with efficiency in providing diagnoses, treatments, and prevention remedies.

A great article on this topic can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/15/AR2010101505

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Health Enterprise Zones

The information on this topic has been directly obtained from http://dhmh.maryland.gov/healthenterprisezones/SitePages/Updates.aspx

On 1/17/12, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown introduced legislation that created the Health Enterprise Zones.
The primary focus of the legislation was the creation of the Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs). HEZs are designed to reduce health disparities among Maryland’s racial and ethnic groups and between geographic areas, improve health care access and health outcomes, and reduce health care costs by providing a variety of incentives to defined geographic areas with high rates of disparities.

According to the United Health Foundation, Maryland ranks 35th in infectious diseases, 34th in health outcomes, and 33rd regarding geographic health disparities, despite numerous positive measures, such as having the 2nd highest rate of primary care providers per capita and one of the ten lowest rates of smoking.

Originally funded with $4 million allocated to the Community Health Resources Commission, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announced on 1/24/13 the first five HEZs which are:

Capitol Heights in Prince George’s County,

Greater Lexington Park in St. Mary’s County,

Dorchester and Caroline Counties,

West Baltimore, and Annapolis.

Community coalitions in each area will receive a range of incentives, benefits, and grant funding to address unacceptable and persistent health disparities.

Maryland Medicaid Waiver

In the 1970’s Barbara Mikulski introduced this  initiative as MD is the only state that sets reimbursement rates for hospitals. Charging higher reimbursement fees gives hospitals the ability to operate within budget constraints as hospital profits are no longer based on volume.

Anthony highlighted that in Southern Maryland during an increase of asthma cases, they implemented Wellness programs and prevention campaigns in schools and throughout the community. This is a comprehensive approach to providing prevention to conditions like diabetes and asthma.

MD leads the way in a number of ways when it comes to healthcare and when the legislation was recently renewed, it was called innovative.

Global payments are incentives for hospitals to push care out into the community. 80% of health care costs are for diabetes and asthma, illnesses in which can be prevented and or reduced.

Education
Anthony hit on a number of points for education specifically concerning prekindergarten expansion, testing, charter schools, and school construction.

Prekindergarten Expansion

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One of Anthony Brown’s campaign objectives is to by 2018, have implemented universal prekindergarten for the entire state of Maryland. As Governor, Anthony Brown has stated that he will use enhanced gaming revenue to help fund this initiative.                        http://anthonybrown.com/education

In addition, on January 16, 2014, in a news conference in Annapolis, MD with House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Anthony Brown announced that Governor Martin O’Malley has allocated 4.3 million to expand prekindergarten to about 1,600 children who reside in households that are up to 300 percent of the federal poverty. As reported by WBAL-TV, Brown emphasized the educational advantages prekindergarten has for children.

This way, by the time they get to kindergarten they are ready to learn,” Lt Governor Anthony Brown.

This measure would bring about creating a pre-K expansion fund for businesses and philanthropic entities to contribute money to support future expansion and will be managed by The Maryland State Department of Education.

http://m.wbaltv.com/education/lt-gov-anthony-brown-outlines-bill-to-expand-prekindergarten/-/17427586/23964052/-/141xgm8z/-/index.html

Question from Audience: Should we administer the Maryland School Assessments this year?

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Anthony’s response:
Everyday, when my son Jonathan studies, I make sure he is using the right books. We should not administer the test until we have accurately designed the assessment and see effectiveness of the delivery of the curriculum.

States can request a waiver but assuming the risk of forfeiting federal dollars must be assessed as in 2010, MD was 1 of 8 jurisdictions that received  Race to the Top to support educational progress.

Anthony addressed that educators need training, resources, and time to prepare lesson plans.

Question from the audience, Do you think the state charters schools are a good idea?

Anthony’s response:
I support charter schools and we should look at the laws that govern them.  In addition, we need to support the facilities in which the schools open.

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School Construction

1.1 billion dollar investment in Baltimore City Schools due to dilapidated buildings and facility upgrades as all students should be able to learn in a technology setting.

First year of the O’Malley Brown Administration, we invested 400 million statewide in school construction and have  averaged 340 million each year. 280 million being allocated this year.

Revenue source for capital investments are a predictable steady streams that can be leveraged in the bond market. Maryland is one of eight states to receive a triple A bond rating. Increased enrollment in Montgomery and Prince Georges in addition to dilapidated facilities and overcrowding are why school construction has been a priority for the Administration.

Background on School Construction Spending

1/10/12 press release obtained here http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=3400 reports the following:

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Governor Martin O’Malley Announces More Than $370 Million in School Construction Funding and Upgrades for Maryland Public Schools

January 10th, 2012

Funds will support an estimated 11,650 jobs for Maryland the O’Malley-Brown Administration will propose more than $370 million in school construction funding and upgrades for Maryland public schools in the FY2013 budget to support an estimated 11,650 jobs with the local dollars these funds will leverage. The Governor is proposing more than $350 million in capital funding for the Public School Construction Program (PSCP), the second highest single-year funding level in State history, bringing the Administration’s six-year school construction commitment to $1.94 billion and creating an estimated 2,400 direct construction jobs each year over the last six years (including FY2013).

Additionally, the Administration will include $15.3 million in the Qualified Zone Academy Bond Program (QZAB), under which the State sells bonds and allocates proceeds to public schools…Maryland is one of only eight states to maintain a Triple A Bond Rating.

School Construction Success Story

On 2/17/10 Lt. Governor Anthony Brown had given

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Oxon Hill Elementary in Prince Georges County a check for $2.1 million to provide walls for the school’s open classrooms. Overall, 28 million dollars was set aside for the Prince George’s County School System for facility upgrades.

http://ww2.gazette.net/stories/02252010/uppenew165643_32558.php

Crime in Baltimore

Anthony’s response: We need robust partnerships where the state does not dictate but support community policing.
Maryland has experienced statewide downwards trend in violent crimes by using  violence prevention tactics in conjunction with technology, information sharing, and training. We need to look at drug abuse as a health issue and not just a safety issue.

Question from the audience: Should the state build a new jail in Baltimore?

In the Baltimore City Detention Center we will continue to increase usage of  technology to keep inmates and correctional officers safe and no more hiding behind bill of rights for rogue officers, and  decrease contraband.

7 years ago, we closed Jessup, a notoriously violent facility.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/18/AR2007031800137.html

We should seek to also invest in other facilities that prevent jails like schools and recreation facilities.

Medical Marijuana and Decriminalizing Marijuana

Anthony supports medical marijuana, the issue here is looking at the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado and should we be treating small amounts of marijuana as a criminal acts with arresting and processing. Must step up education in our schools that we are not condoning using marijuana but we are looking at when we arrest people for marijuana, the rates are the same in white and black neighborhoods;however it creates a greater problem when a black man gets a possession record and goes to apply for housing or a job.

This now concludes the summary of the forum but before you go, check out these pictures of the Brown Campaign participating in the Baltimore Annual M.L.K. Day Parade where Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and kids joined in the fun, and I got to take a picture with Anthony!

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