Poor timing? U of Maryland Medical Center requests $75M hike in state funding

The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore seeks a $75 million, or nearly 5 percent, rate increase from the state amid a scandal focused on the business dealings of its board members, according to WJZ.com.

The medical center reportedly requested the increase before the scandal came to light.

In March, it was revealed that Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical System paid then- Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh $500,000 for 100,000 copies of her Healthy Holly children's books while Ms. Pugh was a member of the health system's board.

Ms. Pugh has since resigned as mayor and from her role on the health system's board of directors. Two more health system board members — who personally profited from business deals with  the medical system while serving on its board — also resigned.

Robert Chrencik, president and CEO of the health system, resigned, effective April 26.  

A health system spokesperson told WJZ.com that its requested rate increase "is necessary to provide funding for ongoing investment in operations and mission-driven goals."

"Ultimately, this is about UMMC being able to meet the complex needs of our patients while continuing to serve as a safety-net provider for the West Baltimore community," the spokesperson added.

But state Sen. Jill Carter, D-Baltimore City, addressed the timing of the request.

"Right now, of course, there's going to be a perception that this  massive rate increase somehow is a result of the self-dealing," she is quoted as saying in the WJZ.com report. "Maybe they should hold off until some of the investigations are done or the internal or external audits are done."

Maryland lawmakers have passed legislation that will replace the medical system's board this summer and generally bans future board members from receiving contracts without competitive bidding, according to The New York Times.

Nine board members had business dealings with the medical system that are under review, according to Baltimore NBC affiliate, WBAL.

According to WJZ.com, the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission will review UMMC's request.

Ms. Carter said that, overall, the state needs to ensure the health system has adequate resources but is also "spending wisely and fairly."

She said, "What’s important here is transparency and that the public is assured that any increases are not directly connected to misdoing–misdeeds."


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