Following FDA approval, LabCorp has now introduced an at-home test for the COVID-19 virus. It will initially be made available to health care workers and first responders in 46, but not all 50 states — the missing states being New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland. The reason, according to an Associated Press report, is that several states have laws on the books that restrict testing with at-home collection kits. I examine the frustrating situation in a new Cato post.
After I published the piece, I was contacted by Paul Celli, public health administrator for clinical and forensic laboratories at the Maryland Department of Health Office of Health Care Quality, who wrote to say the AP article is incorrect in listing Maryland as a state that bans at-home testing. Whatever may be the situation in the other three states, “Maryland is not banning this Pixel at‐home collection device (it is not a test) for use at select Labcorp testing locations.” A Maryland legislative source points out that last year, state lawmakers approved and Gov. Hogan signed SB 495, a measure aimed at liberalizing access to medical testing by removing some of the restrictions in effect earlier. Mr. Celli writes that even before that change, rather than bar use of this particular test the state “probably would have exercised enforcement discretion in such cases where the company appears to be providing services pursuant to a physician or other authorized provider order for the test.”
I’ve got a new post at Cato on steps taken by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to ease licensing burdens for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. Baker announced that a state board would shorten to one day the approval needed for medical professionals licensed in good standing in other states to practice in Massachusetts. On the Maryland steps, I summarize thus:
Meanwhile, as part of a group of emergency measures in Maryland yesterday, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order providing that all renewals of expiring licenses, permits, registrations and the like — including driver’s, business, and other licenses, not only occupational — would be extended to until 30 days after the state of emergency ends, whenever that is. The step will protect state employees and other users of public buildings from unnecessary contacts, as well as sparing many members of the public the fear that they will need to break isolation and social distancing in order to keep their licenses current.
Other states should follow on both measures.
Midterm campaign edition:
- An issue in some races: “Critique of Maryland Congestion-Relief Plan Rests on Very Bad Logic [Austill Stuart] So much for the “Lexus Lanes” epithet: “Congestion pricing is not just slanted toward the elite” [Tyler Cowen]
- Brian Frosh is part of a state-AG task force that subpoenas and investigates private groups and individuals for having promoted erroneous opinions on environmental questions. Which should have been more controversial during the campaign [Mark Uncapher]
- Republican mailers assailed Dems on this issue, yet “supervised injection facilities save lives” [Jacob Sullum, Reason]
- Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick), at 12:55: stop saying we raised taxes 46 times, I counted and we only raised them 15 times [FNP podcast debate with Craig Giangrande]
- In Maryland as elsewhere, “single payer in one state” is more of a political stunt than a practical program [Todd Eberly]
- Poor showings at Tuesday’s polls for many lawmakers rated highly by Maryland Business for Responsive Government could spell trouble ahead on business issues [MBRG]
- “Auditors from the federal government are delving into the debacle of Maryland’s health insurance exchange, The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday. All we can say is, good.” [Frederick News-Post] Catalogue of state ObamaCare exchange debacles, of which perhaps only Oregon’s outdoes ours [Peter Suderman] Role of departing health commissioner Sharfstein [Maryland Reporter] Role of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, earlier;
- More details on GOP poll finding governor’s race almost neck-and-neck [Maryland Reporter, earlier]
- Police militarization: Frederick News-Post runs a letter from me about vote by Reps. Van Hollen, Delaney to preserve Pentagon-surplus-to-cops program. Choicest comment: “The liberal left is never happy.” (Referring to me!) Related Baltimore Sun coverage of 1033 program in Maryland; earlier post here.
- Conveniently, privacy laws conceal identity of official in the O’Malley/Brown administration accused of inside dealings [Baltimore Sun] My little crony: Mark Newgent traces energy subsidy flow to firm run by O’Malley sidekick [Red Maryland]
- Truly discouraging that legislature would discontinue reporting through which we learn that law enforcement agencies in Maryland have conducted more than 6,500 SWAT raids since 2010, the great majority over execution of search warrants [Newgent]
- Dems launch StopPeroutka.com [Len Lazarick, Barry Rascovar; earlier] His affinities with Anne Arundel sheriff nominee [StopPeroutka.com]
Filed under Policy, Politics
I have my differences with Maryland Reporter columnist Barry Rascovar, but his latest column correctly identifies the central issue in this year’s Maryland election: the failed rollout of the state’s Obamacare health exchange, which Rascovar calls an “immense fiasco,” a “monumental disaster that should have been foreseen,” even “the costliest debacle in Maryland state history.” Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is now the Democratic candidate for governor, had been assigned to oversee the rollout as his big project, having few other duties attached to his position. The results could be summed up in a
now-classic Internet meme: You Had One Job.
As if this were not enough, Lt. Gov. Brown and Gov. Martin O’Malley sat back while state health secretary Josh Sharfstein loyally fell on his sword to take blame that was far from his alone. Rascovar:
Even worse, they [Brown and O’Malley] connived with legislative leaders to cover up the true story by avoiding an in-depth accounting of what went wrong until mid-2015. This intentional lack of transparency and accountability will remain an indelible blot on the O’Malley-Brown administration. It will haunt both of them in the years ahead.
Sharfstein took the fall at legislative hearings. He was the only one connected with this ill-fated project to apologize and take responsibility for a truly screwed-up rollout.
It’s a devastating episode because, for all the state’s general leanings toward the Democratic Party, swing voters in Maryland still place a premium on competence and independence. After watching his performance in the health exchange debacle, who could be confident that Anthony Brown will display either?
Seven years ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley by executive decree ordered the unionization of state-subsidized home health carers and child carers in Maryland, even though the General Assembly had refused to enact legislation to do that. Maryland is now one of about a dozen states to herd home health carers into unions, an enormous dues bonanza for unions that include the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a major source of political support for O’Malley’s Democratic Party.
In June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that it is a violation of home health carers’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay dues for representation they may not want or welcome. (It applied this analysis to the category of “partial public employees” like the home carers who may have some characteristics of public employees but lack many others.) Since then, advocates at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have sought to make sure states and unions comply with the decision by ceasing the collection of mandatory dues. They have already gotten pledges of compliance in Illinois (where the Harris case arose), Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration needs to make clear immediately that it intends to comply with the Supreme Court decision and will not attempt to prolong the unlawful mandatory collection of dues. This would also make a good time for O’Malley to apologize for railroading through an executive order that led to the violation of the constitutional rights of thousands of Marylanders, and an even better time for him to revoke the executive order. If he declines to do so, the next governor should revoke it.
The high court’s ruling in Harris v. Quinn is a rebuff to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who in 2007 handed down an executive order meant to herd the carers into unions. Now they can assert their constitutional right not to pay dues if they object to the union and its message [Marc Kilmer, Maryland Public Policy Institute] More on Harris v. Quinn in a new podcast I’ve done at Cato, and at Overlawyered.