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Anthony Brown on health care: You be the judge [Editorial]

Laws and LegislationExecutive BranchGovernment

The biggest issue for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in his run for governor is his role as the head of Maryland's effort to implement the Affordable Care Act. He has had months to develop an answer for the failed launch of the state's health insurance exchange website and the troubles that persisted so pervasively that the entire site was scrapped. Maryland Public Television host Jeff Salkin asked him to explain his role during Monday's gubernatorial debate. Here is his answer verbatim. You be the judge.

"Let me describe my role. Implementing the Affordable Care Act, the big component, of course, was the health benefits exchange. But there's also the Medicaid expansion. There are issues that deal with the workforce and making sure that we have a health provider workforce to do the work. Also there are questions that we looked at in a work group we put together dealing with the safety net, so as more and more Marylanders get health insurance, there's still going to be some that don't.

"So, I was the chair of the health reform coordinating council that looked at every one of these aspects, and one of the first things that we did three years ago, we sent to the legislature the blueprint for establishing the health benefits exchange, and we established that as an independent government agency. In retrospect, like in Connecticut, I'd say go back and appoint me as a member of the health benefits exchange, maybe even the chairman of the exchange, but that's not the role that I served. But that doesn't mean that I didn't have a responsibility. I was chair of the health reform coordinating council.

"When we got the information that we did, and I didn't get it until October 1st because I wasn't on the health exchange where the information was at, as soon as we got the information then we brought the exchange in and said OK, we've got some things that you need to do: reorganize the leadership, refocus the vendors, get rid of the ones that aren't working. What more resources do need? [They] said we need more call centers because we're doing more manual work-arounds. We need more navigators. And that's what we did. We did a lot of manual work-arounds, but the result was to enroll 340,000 Marylanders. These are real Marylanders. This is the senior who's no longer making the choice between prescription drugs and groceries. These are the real Marylanders. A lot of manual work-arounds."

To respond to this editorial, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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