Prince George’s County elected officials may have their differences but one thing they are united on: the building of a county hospital located in Largo, Md.
“We are united on this hospital,” Maryland State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) told the
AFRO at the annual “District 24 Legislative Night” on March 6 at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis, Md. “Everybody wants to get this hospital on track.”
The regional medical center is set to begin construction on a state-of-the-art medical facility to replace the aging Prince George’s Hospital in Cheverly, Md. The $543 million project is a joint venture of Dimensions Healthcare Systems, which has run hospitals in the county for more than three decades, and the University of Maryland Medical System.
More than $400 million in public funds from the state and county will go to the construction and operations of the hospital. The hospital is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020.
The application for the certificate of need was approved by the Maryland Health Commission on Oct. 20, 2016. Maryland Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) told the AFRO that “that things are going well” but there are concerns. “We are concerned about the [possible] repeal of Obamacare and that might affect the financial viability of the hospital,” he said.
There are concerns among the House of Delegates and Maryland Senate Prince George’s delegations that if Obamacare is repealed, the new hospital, which will also be a teaching facility for medical students and interning doctors, would be financially insolvent because so many patients are indigent who recently became insured, and could become uninsured and would need compensated care.
“This hospital could serve up to 400,000 residents,” Del. Daryl Barnes (D-District 25) told the AFRO. “Without federal support, the hospital couldn’t survive.”
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) attended the event and said he will fight for the hospital.
“We need that regional medical center,” Brown said. “There are too many residents who are leaving the county for health care.”
Brown echoed the concerns of Lewis and Barnes, saying that “without the Affordable Care Act, we cannot finance that regional medical center.” Brown pledged to do what he can to get the funding that the hospital needs and to try to undo any effort to gut Obamacare. “I want that regional medical center in Largo,” the representative said.
One of the biggest proponents of the hospital is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III. Baker testified on Feb. 28 in front of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee and on March 1 for the county at the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on behalf of the hospital. “I told the committees that we demand that Gov. Larry Hogan release all of the funds for this hospital in his budget,” Baker told the AFRO.
Hogan’s budget would fund the hospital at the level of $15 million while Prince George’s lawmakers want $30 million for fiscal year 2018. The Hogan administration has said they intend to honor commitments to the hospital.
“The State of Maryland has provided the vast majority of the construction funds for this project and we look forward to seeing the Baker administration meet their end of the deal,” Hogan press secretary Shareese DeLeaver Churchill in a statement on the matter that was reported on a Jan. 25 broadcast on WTOP radio.
There is also an issue with the cardiac center. The new hospital will include a cardiac center but the Anne Arundel County Medical Center recently was approved for a cardiac center, too.
Lewis said that the two centers are close together geographically and one would likely suffer financially in competition for public funds and grants.
While the Obamacare fight, the Hogan budget, and the cardiac center are hurdles to the new Prince George’s hospital, county lawmakers are confident that those issues will be resolved.
“The bill for the new hospital is moving,” Barnes said.