Feb. 25 // Maryland Maternity Access Coalition Seeks Statewide Injured Baby Fund

A new coalition comprised of citizens, organizations and health providers say they believe Maryland's "worsening litigation environment" is creating a growing risk that hospitals and doctors could be forced to reduce access to care. "A similar situation has already occurred over the last decade in Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia-area hospitals closed their birthing centers due to the high costs of medical liability," The Maryland Maternity Access Coalition said.  A poll of nearly 800 voters conducted by OpinionWorks found that voters support a birth injury fund by a 64%-to-21% margin. Additionally, the poll found that 66% of voters believe it is fair that of families give up their right to sue a doctor and a hospital in exchange for being guaranteed an award from the fund. (WBFF)

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136 Montgomery employees made at least $40,000 each in overtime last year

A total of 136 Montgomery County employees, mostly firefighters and corrections officers, earned at least $40,000 each in overtime pay last year, according to new data posted on the county government’s Web site. In 2012, 94 county workers received $40,000 or more each in overtime pay. In some instances included in the 2013 data, employees’ overtime far exceeded their total base pay. Montgomery officials defend the overtime outlay, saying it is a lower-cost alternative to hiring new full-time employees, with expensive benefits, to fill empty positions day to day. (Wash. Post)

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As problems mount, Maryland weighs move to federal health exchange

Maryland health leaders could decide by the end of March whether to hold on to its flawed health exchange or turn it over to federal administrators. The exchange’s ongoing technical problems and the state’s difficulty bringing the system up to speed have led administrators to question whether the system is worth maintaining in the future. Alternatives include partnering with the federally run Healthcare.gov exchange, joining a consortium of states or adopting another state’s technology. Maryland could also overhaul its existing system and continue running it. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Maryland announces $20M in utility bill help

Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced $20 million in additional help for low-income Maryland residents to pay higher utility bills from colder weather. The governor announced Monday the assistance will be made available to all income eligible households that apply for the Electric Universal Service Program in fiscal year 2014. (AP)

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O’Malley appoints 3 to CSA, 20 to lower courts

Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday named Baltimore City Circuit Judge Michael W. Reed and attorneys Kevin F. Arthur and Andrea M. Leahy-Fucheck to Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. In addition to the Court of Special Appeals selections, O’Malley made 20 appointments to circuit and district courts across the state on Monday. (Daily Record)

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Severn health and community center moves forward

For more than two decades, residents and activists in Severn have lobbied for a health clinic and community center for their neighborhood. During that period, some simply gave up as plans fell through time and time again. Not Glenda Gathers. The local activist held out hope that the vision to make the center a focal point for the community would become a reality. The effort to build the center in an economically challenged area of Severn is now in its final stages. Organizers hope to break ground later this year, with an opening set for July 2015. (Balt. Sun)

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Dunkin' Donuts vs. McDonald's in Montgomery County strip mall

Anyone who patronizes both McDonald'sand Dunkin' Donuts stores has surely noticed that the former coffee offerings are starting to look a lot like those at the latter — and that the New England favorite's menu, in turn, now boasts a lot more than just Boston cremes and munchkins. One local McDonald's has evidently noticed as well, and has filed a suit to try to protect its turf at one shopping center in Montgomery County. The fast food chain has filed a suit accusing its landlord, Baltimore-based Red Mill Shopping Center Associates, LLC, of breach of contract for agreeing to lease another space in the shopping center to a Dunkin' Donuts. (Wash. Bus. Journal)

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Carroll commissioners ready to exit waste-to-energy incinerator project

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners could formally move to exit the waste-to-energy incinerator agreement with Frederick County in as soon as the next two weeks. After the news Friday that the Maryland Department of the Environment had issued the appropriate permits for a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick, Carroll County commissioners said Monday that it is time for Carroll to exit the project in the most "cost-effective way for taxpayers." (Patuxent)

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