The state of Maryland has become a national test bed for every liberal public-policy experiment coming out of Washington, D.C. Democratic governor Martin O’Malley, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who would like to succeed him, have concluded that their left flank must be protected in order to win their future primary elections.
Maryland thus rushes headlong into the Common Core education standards, punitive taxes to comply with EPA mandates, and proposals to raise the minimum wage.
Nowhere is this liberal zeal more apparent than when it comes to Obamacare. The lieutenant governor was named the O’Malley administration’s key point person in implementing the Affordable Care Act, and it was supposed to be the perfect setup for his being elected governor in next year’s election (while his term-limited boss lays the groundwork for a presidential run).
There is just one problem. As elsewhere, implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maryland has been a debacle. The lead contractors for developing the Maryland health-exchange website are suing each other, enrollment figures are lower than in other states that have run their own exchanges, and the governor’s administration was caught flat-footed when it was learned that 73,000 existing health-insurance policies had been canceled.
But it gets worse. Maryland’s small-business exchange, which is intended to give employers access to affordable plans for their employees, has been delayed twice and will be at least six months late. The fall-back option of enrolling people manually, with the assistance of so-called navigators, is a logistical nightmare, most notably because the paper forms do not match the electronic forms, requiring phone calls to collect the correct information.
And this is being highlighted not by the state’s rare Republicans but by another politically ambitious Democratic politician who would also like to be governor: Attorney General Doug Gansler. Earlier this month Gansler released an ad criticizing Brown. It focuses on Brown’s ridiculous attempt to spin 73,000 cancellation notices as “renewal notices,” shows him trying to explain that Maryland and a number of other states “stumbled out of the gate” in implementing the law, then compares that bogus claim with the progress seen in California, Connecticut, and Kentucky.