Maryland Senate panel recommends confirmation of Neall as health secretary

Robert R. Neall won a unanimous recommendation from a Senate committee Monday to be confirmed as Maryland’s secretary of health.

The swift approval of Neall’s nomination by the Senate Executive Nominations Committee came as a stark contrast with the panel’s handling of Gov. Larry Hogan’s last nominee to lead the Department of Health. Last year the committee repeatedly delayed hearings on Dennis R. Schrader’s nomination, prompting Hogan to withdraw his nomination but to leave him in charge of the department over legislators’ objections.

Where the majority Democrats on the panel had questions about Schrader’s qualifications, it wasn’t doubtful that Neall would be confirmed. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, is an outspoken admirer of the Republican Neall, a former state senator and delegate who also served a term as Anne Arundel County executive.

Neall, 69, has extensive experience in the health care field, having worked for Johns Hopkins Hospital an Health System for more than two decades. From 2004 to 2016 he served as chief executive of Priority Partners, a managed care organization affiliated with Hopkins.

Schrader is now serving as the department’s chief operating officer. Neall’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor for a final vote.

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