FACT CHECK: Pinocchio Pat McDonough Lies to Voters on Health Insurance

FACT CHECK:

Pinocchio Pat McDonough Lies to Voters on Health Insurance
16-year member of House Health & Government Operations Committee skipped out on hearings, missed 50% of committee votes; Now misleads Baltimore County voters on State plan to reduce insurance rates

 

When you’re running for public office, facts matter. Integrity matters. Unfortunately for the people of Baltimore County, my opponent is sorely lacking in both departments.

Baltimore County is facing many challenges, and we need a County Executive with experience and pragmatism to solve the serious problems we face. Pat McDonough has spent his campaign lying to voters about my record and using incendiary rhetoric to intentionally mislead county residents.

Can we really trust the divisive political tactics of a self-serving career politician? Let’s break down some of McDonough’s latest claims and you can decide for yourself:

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “Since Al Redmer has been the Maryland Insurance Czar, the rates have gone up seventy-eight percent in four years.”

TRUTH: The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was created long before I was appointed by Governor Hogan to the Maryland Insurance Administration.

Since becoming Commissioner in 2015, I have testified before Congress numerous times, informing them that Obamacare is broken.

Each of the last three years, I have briefed members of the Maryland General Assembly about the status of the Obamacare market. Each time, I have advised them that Obamacare was entering a death spiral. President Obama’s promises were all wrong. The market continues to deteriorate, resulting in insurance carriers suffering unsustainable losses, which have resulted in unsustainable rate increases.

To suggest that I had something to do with Obamacare or that I am responsible for the consequential rate increases is completely false, and Delegate McDonough should know better.

Worse still, is the fact that the delegate has had years to introduce a bill to the General Assembly to change the standards for changing insurance rates, yet has never even attempted to do so. Simply complaining about something without offering any solutions to fix an issue isn’t just wrong, it is a dereliction of duty by an elected official and a disservice to the constituents that Delegate McDonough represents.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “During the last session of the General Assembly Commissioner Al Redmer advised the legislators that if they would pass a $386 million health insurance tax hike, the rates would be protected.”

TRUTH: This is simply not true. During the 2017 session, the General Assembly created a workgroup to review Obamacare. The workgroup met monthly in Annapolis. When requested, the Maryland Insurance Administration provided data and projections during their review. The General Assembly determines healthcare and insurance policy for the State, not the Executive Branch and the Maryland Insurance Administration.

If Delegate McDonough would have attended any of the meetings in his committee room, he would have known the details.

He did not.

The workgroup chair, a member of my opponent's committee, sponsored the legislation in question to request a waiver from the federal government to create a state-based reinsurance program.

FACT: There is no tax "hike." In 2018, insurance carriers will pay $386 million to the federal government. The new law requires that in 2019, the carriers would pay that $368 million to the state instead.

If Delegate McDonough would have attended the proposal’s public hearings, he would know the details and understand the process.

The waiver is currently in a 30-day public comment and review period. The Maryland health benefit exchange anticipates applying for the waiver to create the reinsurance program by the end of May 2018. The program requires an approval from the federal government, so it is expected that such approval will come within 45-60 days. By all projections, a Maryland reinsurance program would result in Obamacare rates being mitigated by 20-30%.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “The Republicans saw through the lies and voted against Al’s tax bill. However, the remaining misinformed legislators believed him and passed the tax.”

TRUTH: Again, it was not my bill. Bills can only be submitted by a legislator, which I am not. Since Del. McDonough has spent the last two decades in the General Assembly, one would hope he knows that. This gives the troubling appearance that he does not understand the basic functions of the separate branches of government.

Additionally, ten Republican legislators voted for the proposal.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “Now the two insurance companies, Carefirst [sic] and Kaiser Permanente, are talking about raising rates almost ninety percent!”

TRUTH: The average rate increase is around 30% -- and that is before reductions that will occur if the federal government approves the state reinsurance program.

Maryland law requires that insurance carriers must have submitted their proposed rates for 2019 to the Insurance Administration by May 1, 2018. Because the reinsurance program still needs federal approval, the proposed rates do not reflect the proposed reinsurance program and its rate reductions.

The requests for 2019 by the insurance carriers are:

CareFirst PPO = 91.4%
CareFirst HMO = 18.5%
Kaiser HMO = 37.4%

If the waiver and reinsurance program is approved, the carriers will request a modification of their rates. As noted above, it is anticipated that the rate mitigation will be between 20-30%.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “Al Redmer’s tax hike directly benefited these two insurance companies and despite bailing them out with our money we are still receiving a rate hike.”

TRUTH: Yet another false claim. If the reinsurance program is approved, Maryland law requires that the dollars saved must be applied to reduce insurance rates paid by consumers. The insurance carriers cannot and will not profit via the reinsurance dollars.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “Al Redmer’s mislead [sic] us again. I guess it’s just “Al being Al.” Even worse, Al’s tax hike helped Obama Care [sic] in Maryland to survive.

TRUTH: Again, there is no tax "hike." Federal law states that Obamacare will survive unless the federal government changes it or abolishes it.

If consumers can’t afford the Obamacare products in Maryland, there would not be anything for them to buy. Federal law prohibits the sale of health insurance products in Maryland, unless the products comply with the Affordable Care Act.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “By the way, this is a temporary, one year election year tax to help politicians get reelected [sic].”

TRUTH: This is, you guessed it, not true! There is no one-year tax. There is no tax hike, period.

The proposal simply directs that the $386 million from the insurance carriers that is payable to the federal government in 2018 would instead be payable to the State of Maryland in 2019. The sum is then paid again to the federal government in 2020.

 

MCDONOUGH CLAIM: “I’m sure ‘TAX HIKE REDMER’ will provide the same executive skills as Baltimore County Executive. We are in for a big hurt if he wins!”

TRUTH: These statements are not coming from a lay person who doesn't know any better. Rather, they are from a delegate who has served on our legislature’s health insurance committee for the last 16 years!

However, he doesn’t know better simply because he doesn’t go to work. Pat McDonough has one of the worst attendance records in the General Assembly.

In the 2017 Session, he missed more than 50% of all votes cast in his committee. More than 200 times, he chose to just not show up. And during the 2018 session, when myself and the staff of the Maryland Insurance Commission traveled to Annapolis numerous times to brief the delegate and his committee, he yet again failed to show up.

When you don’t show up, you don’t know the details. When you don’t know the details, these are the results you get: ill-founded statements, groundless accusations, and misinformation.

 

Don’t settle for folks that don’t show up! Would you promote someone who currently shows up for work less than 50% of the time?

Talk is cheap, and governing takes hard work. It takes showing up for your constituents every single day, learning all the facts and getting all the information. It takes honesty and integrity.

And that is exactly what I hope to bring to Baltimore County government as your next County Executive.

MDGOP Candidate