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Maryland drug price board has members, but no money to do its work

Maryland Democrats have appointed members to a new state Prescription Drug Affordability Board, but Gov. Larry Hogan has not named his member of the board or released money to get the board up and running. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Maryland Democrats have appointed members to a new state Prescription Drug Affordability Board, but Gov. Larry Hogan has not named his member of the board or released money to get the board up and running. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Maryland officials named members of a new board that’s supposed to investigate high drug prices, but Gov. Larry Hogan has not released the money that’s needed to get the board up and running.

State lawmakers created the Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board this year, charging it with reviewing the prices for prescription drugs paid by health insurance plans for state and county government employees. It also plans to study whether price caps should be set for prescription drugs.

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State lawmakers set aside $750,000 in the state budget to pay for a director and staff for the new board. As part of the budget process, the governor has the authority not to spend the set-aside money, known as “fenced-off” funds.

Hogan, a Republican, has declined to release about $245 million of such fenced-off money for a variety of programs, including the money for getting the prescription drug board up and running.

The administration says it is working to find a way to fund the drug board’s budget.

Even though the board has no money, Democratic leaders on Thursday announced their appointees to the board:

  • Chairman Van Mitchell, a former state health secretary, selected jointly by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones.
  • Dr. Eberechukwu Onukwugha, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, appointed by Jones.
  • Dr. George S. Malouf Jr., an ophthalmologist, appointed by Miller.
  • Gerard F. Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management, appointed by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Hogan, who allowed the bill establishing the board to become law without his signature, also is required to appoint one member of the board. He has not announced his selection.

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