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Committee looks at legislation related to health care

March 05, 2007

Editor's note: This is part five of an occasional series explaining the committees on which state lawmakers from Washington County serve in the Maryland General Assembly.




Committee name: Health & Government Operations

Washington County representative: Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., R-Frederick/Washington

Committee's purpose: "HGO is charged with approving all legislation related to health care, from health facility regulations to health-care practitioner regulation. We deal with health insurance, public health, long-term care, disability programs, mental health and emergency medical services. Additionally, the committee is charged with overseeing the Open Meetings Act, homeland security, the state procurement code and oversight of various state agencies."

How the Maryland General Assembly Web site describes the committee: "The Committee considers legislation relating to child and elder health care; civil rights; emergency medical services; health and life insurance; health policy and planning, including facilities, occupations and public health; long-term care; and State government organization, procedures, and administrative law, as well as procurement."

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Key issue(s) the committee faces this session: "Access to affordable health care is the primary issue. Several bills have already been filed."

Bills connected to the committee's work that Weldon has introduced or plans to introduce: "Continuing my efforts to close loopholes in Maryland's Open Meetings Act that have allowed public bodies to act behind closed doors. My 2007 bill expands the Open Meetings Act to include panels created by a chief executive of a political subdivision."

Subcommittee(s) Weldon is assigned to: Public Health & Long-term Care, Government Operations

Comment: "HGO will be dealing with the most pressing issue facing Marylanders today: How do we deal with the rising cost of health care services? A bill to provide coverage under Medicaid for everyone at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level will likely pass, as will an individual mandate requiring those who can afford health insurance to purchase it. The question is whether all of this will be paid for by an increase in the cigarette sales tax or through some other mechanism," Weldon said.

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