Four Democrats in Maryland's congressional delegation rallied in Annapolis on Monday to press Gov. Larry Hogan to oppose the Republican health care plan headed toward a vote this week in Congress.
Democrats have been trying for months to get Hogan, a Republican, to speak out against the repeal of Obamacare, noting estimates that show hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents could lose coverage and that the state budget would take a $1.4 billion hit under Medicaid cuts proposed in the current plan.
"We're here with a plea — we're here with an ask, with a request — of Gov. Hogan, to stand up as many governors have done," said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"We thought it was a no brainer that our governor would step up," he said.
Hogan, who publicly opposed Trump during the election, has said he supports the Medicaid expansion included in the Obamacare health legislation — signed into law seven years ago this week — and that he wants no one to lose coverage under whatever legislation ultimately emerges in Washington.
But Democrats say that posture isn't as forceful as some other Republican governors — including Rick Snyder of Michigan and Brian Sandoval of Nevada — who wrote a letter to congressional leaders last week saying the current proposal "does not ensure the resources necessary to ensure no one is left out" and that it "shifts significant costs to states."
House Republicans are scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday, but GOP leaders still are trying to win support from within their caucus. House Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to unveil changes to the bill ahead of the vote, but the extent of those changes is not known.
A Hogan spokeswoman said that the lawmakers were "wasting time playing politics."
"This type of grandstanding is exactly why Marylanders and Americans are sick of politicians and why Congress has an approval rating in the single digits," said the spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse. "Moreover, these members are disregarding the governor's direct appeal to them to work in a bipartisan manner to come up with responsible solutions for Maryland."
Chasse turned the call for intra-party lobbying around, suggesting the congressmen should "tell their friends in the legislature to quit holding up our health secretary's confirmation."
Hogan has accused the General Assembly of dragging its feet on the confirmation of acting state health secretary Dennis R. Schrader, who was appointed in December.
The four lawmakers, which also included House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore and Rep. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, denied politics were involved in their event and insisted Hogan could help flip wavering Republicans in Congress to vote against the measure.
Cummings said he resented the statement from Hogan's spokeswoman, and told supporters at the rally that Hogan should "come down here and say that."
"It's not about politics," he said. "It's what we believe. How dare you talk about grandstanding."