A common ground, bipartisan solution to health care? If Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants to have a lengthy career in politics, he probably needs to stop making so much sense.
The state Democratic party has taken the popular Republican governor to task for not speaking out against President Donald Trump on a number of issues, not the least of which being health care reform. Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month known as the American Health Care Act — dubbed "Trumpcare" — could leave millions without affordable health insurance and millions more with pre-existing conditions without coverage. It could also have a significant impact on the economy, especially in Maryland where the health care sector is one of the top employers.
A smattering of Carroll Democrats and even a potential Democratic candidate for governor from Montgomery County showed up at Carroll Community College to protest during Hogan's regional cabinet meeting in Westminster on Thursday demanding some response from the governor to Trump.
In an interview at the Times offices later that day, Hogan gave one, although probably not one that those on either the left on the extreme right wanted to hear — Obamacare won't be preserved as-is, but the current GOP plans to repeal and replace Obamacare likely aren't going to fly either.
"It's only the House. There is, I think, no chance of that passing in the Senate, so it's a lot of kind of hyperventilating over something that might never happen," Hogan said. "Protesting isn't going to help; I think we ought to sit down with the folks on each side and try to fix it."
What a novel concept. Alas, the two parties in Washington are more concerned about wins and losses and political brownie points to bother putting their heads together in an effort to make health care legislation that would have broad appeal among Americans.
A Gallup poll from last month shows that, for the first time, a majority of Americans (55 percent) now support the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), likely because they've begun to recognize the alternative is worse — just 17 percent approve of the Republican health care plan, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
Again, that's not to say Obamacare doesn't need work. It does. Among other things, as Hogan noted Thursday, the ACA did not deliver on promises to contain the costs of insurance premiums. Some Marylanders have seen premiums go up 50 percent or more.
But what the House GOP has proposed isn't the fix. And in fact, Hogan has been outspoken about the Republican plan's reductions to Medicaid funding. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare has provided insurance coverage to more than a quarter-million Maryland residents.
"We have to fix those things that are broken," he said Thursday, "but we also have to protect the people that are covered under the Medicaid expansion."
Hogan doesn't need to bury Trump or members of the GOP Congress to make his point on the House Republicans' health care proposal. The Senate is likely to re-write the entire thing because vulnerable Republicans in that chamber aren't going to leave themselves open to being ousted in 2018 by passing a bad bill. Consensus among the two houses seems far off.
Meanwhile, Hogan can continue to enjoy his popularity among Marylanders as he ramps up re-election efforts himself by continuing to push for bipartisan solutions here — the exact opposite of what lawmakers of both parties in Washington are doing.
If only we had that kind of leadership inside the beltway. Hmm. Maybe Gov. Hogan might have a lengthy career in politics after all.