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8:35 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Revised Enrollment Goals For MD Health Insurance Exchange, Foreclosures, & The Governor’s Race

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State officials are lowering enrollment goals for Maryland’s online health insurance exchange, saying the original goals were mistakenly set too high. Plus: gubernatorial hopeful Lollar picks Timmerman to be his running mate, the state NAACP calls for a foreclosure moratorium, the Horseshoe casino holds hiring fairs, and more...

Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment Goals Reset: State officials say the original enrollment goals for Maryland’s health insurance exchange were set too high. They’re officially releasing new, lower goals to lawmakers today – and say that they’ve already met the new overall goal. The original goals were to have a total of 260-thousand people pick up insurance; about 110-thousand of those through an expansion of Medicaid, with another 150-thousand people expected to enroll in private plans. But representatives of the Hilltop Institute, a nonpartisan health research organization, say they made “a mistake” in issuing those goals, and accidentally used numbers for fiscal years instead of calendar years. That’s prompted the release of a new overall goal of 160-thousand people -- 100 thousand lower than the original goal. And the state has already met the new overall goal, because a higher than expected number of people who’ve picked up insurance through the Medicaid expansion. Maryland is still not expected to meet the revised goal of having 70-thousand people get private plans through the exchange by March 31st; a little more than 33-thousand people have done so – that’s a little less than half the new goal, but only a little more than one fifth of the old goal. State Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein tells the Baltimore Sun that having the correct data helps to “put things into proper context.” But Sharfstein adds that the new numbers don’t “change any of the challenges we’re facing.” There’s more here from the Washington Post.

O’Malley At Governors Association’s Meeting: Governor Martin O'Malley is attending the Governors Association’s winter meeting in Washington. Last night, he joined governors from across the country for a dinner. Today, he’ll participate in a Council of Governors meeting with President Obama. O'Malley is considering a run for the White House in 2016; over the weekend, O’Malley appeared on CBS’s “Face The Nation”, and said he won’t wait to find out whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enters the race before preparing to get into the race himself. More on the NGA meeting here from the Baltimore Sun; more on O’Malley’s Sunday talk show appearance here from the Washington Post.

Lollar Chooses Timmerman For Running Mate: Republican Charles Lollar says he’s chosen Kenneth Timmerman to be his running mate. Timmerman has worked as an investigative reporter; he ran for the Republican nomination for a US Senate seat in the year 200, and more recently waged an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen in 2012. Lollar and Timmerman are expected to tour Maryland today, and file their candidacy papers with the State Board of Elections in Annapolis. Another Republican in the governor’s race, Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George, says he’ll announce his choice for running mate tomorrow – the last day that candidates can get their candidacy papers in. Other Republicans in the crowded primary include Harford County Executive David Craig (whose running mate is Eastern Shore Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio) and founder of “Change Maryland” Larry Hogan (his running mate, Boyd Rutherford, served along with Hogan on the cabinet of former Governor Bob Ehrlich). There’s more here from the Washington Post.

NAACP Joins Call For Foreclosure Moratorium: The Maryland Chapter of the NAACP is calling on lawmakers to impose a six month moratorium on foreclosures in our state. Legislation that would do so has already been introduced in the General Assembly; its sponsors – Delegate Aisha Braveboy and state Senator Anthony Muse – will hold a rally today in Annapolis to round up support for the idea. Maryland enacted a similar moratorium on foreclosures several years ago; it was lifted in 2012 after reforms were made to the state’s foreclosure process. Maryland currently has the third highest foreclosure rate in the nation. The NAACP says many foreclosures are happening illegally. But the vice president of real estate information company RealtyTrac tells the Daily Record that he takes exception “to the view that there are illegal foreclosures happening.” And the head of the Maryland Bankers Association says that a moratorium on foreclosures would be bad for the housing market.

'House Of Cards' Puts The Muscle On Maryland Politicians WYPR's Fraser Smith and Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post talk about letters sent to Governor O'Malley and House Speaker Mike Busch from the production company that makes the Netflix drama "House of Cards." Media Rights Capital says that the planned tax credits for filming in Maryland are not enough. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Horseshoe Baltimore Casino Looking For Local Workers: Maryland's newest casino is scouring Baltimore’s churches for potential employees. The Horseshoe Baltimore casino is set to open in August or September… and representatives of the company that owns it are working to hire Baltimore residents to run it. Horseshoe Baltimore is expected to employ about 17-hundred people. The Baltimore Sun reports that casino officials held a hiring fair at Union Baptist Church in Upton. It’s one of 14 one-day recruitment fairs being held around the city over the next couple months. WJZ reports that the next fair is tomorrow at the Hotel Monaco from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and is geared toward veterans. More about Horseshoe hiring events is here.

Missing Mail: Congressional leaders from Maryland and the District of Columbia want to know why some people have not been receiving their mail from the U.S. Post Office. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Congressman Chris Van Hollen and other lawmakers have called for an immediate fix because some residents have not received mail in more than a week. It's not known if the recent snowstorm played a role in the mail delays. There’s more here from WJLA.

Lion Cubs Meet Baltimore Zoo-Goers: The first lion cubs to be born at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore made their public debut on Saturday. The Baltimore Sun reports that thousands of people flocked to the zoo to see the cubs, named Luke and Leia. The lion cubs’ mother died of complications after giving birth in October.

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