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Donoghue wants to continue programs

July 03, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

When Del. John P. Donoghue learned that state budget cuts might harm the Medbank program that helps Western Maryland residents access free prescriptions from drug companies, he quietly went to work on the problem.

Donoghue and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, told state bureaucrats it would not be fair to cut Medbank, which has exceeded its goals and served as a statewide model for efficiency.

Taylor said Thursday the $95,000 cut had been restored, allowing the program to help 4,000 people this year in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties.

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It's that kind of work that Donoghue said he wishes to continue if elected to a fourth four-year term representing Hagerstown District 2C residents in the Maryland House of Delegates.

"I want to make sure programs I've worked on the last 12 years continue," the Democrat said.

Donoghue helped to create Medbank, which operates out of the H.W. Murphy Community Health Center on Walnut Street in Hagerstown. He also worked on another prescription drug program that helps low-income seniors.

As chairman of the health insurance subcommittee of the House Economic Matters Committee, Donoghue plays a key role in shaping the state's health insurance policies.

Legislation he sponsored in 1998 set up a statewide grievance and appeals process that handles complaints consumers have about their insurance companies.

"There's no question that health care is a major issue, and it probably wasn't 20 years ago when people ran for office. Today it's right up there with education and public safety," he said.

If re-elected, Donoghue said he would stay on top of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's plan to become a for-profit company and sell its assets to California-based Wellpoint.

While the matter is in the Maryland Insurance Commissioner's hands, the legislature gave itself the power to review the decision last session.

Donoghue, 45, of 836 Oak Hill Ave., said he plans to file his official candidacy papers next week.

So far, the only person who has filed to run against him is former Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, a Republican. When Bruchey announced his candidacy, he accused Donoghue of failing to represent the city's interests in Annapolis. As an example, he cited the city's need to hire a lobbyist.

"I don't think I need any lessons in performance from the ex-mayor," Donoghue responded.

Donoghue, who works full-time as a stockbroker in addition to his duties as delegate and is the father of four children, said he's planning a traditional campaign, going door-to-door in the city of Hagerstown.

"I feel very privileged to serve the people of Hagerstown. They've asked me to look out for their well-being and I work hard to do that," he said.

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