- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

A Democratic delegate has withdrawn his bill that calls for making the job of Maryland’s insurance commissioner an elected office, about two months after Democratic leaders called for the current commissioner to resign.

Delegate Herman L. Taylor II of Montgomery County said he has withdrawn the bill because it lacked votes in the House Economic Matters Committee, which was considering it.

“It was just hard to get the votes to make it successful,” Mr. Taylor said of the bill, which had 24 Democratic sponsors.

The bill’s passage had seemed almost certain since Democratic leaders called for Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr.’s ouster in January. Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1 in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch accused Mr. Redmer, a Republican, of political motivations in posting a bulletin that allowed health maintenance organizations to pass on to their customers a tax imposed by Democratic lawmakers.

“What we need in that position is a watchdog and not a lapdog,” Mr. Miller, Prince George’s County Democrat and a trial lawyer, said in January.

“I call for the insurance commissioner to do his job,” said Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat. “And if he doesn’t do that, I think we have no other choice than to call for his resignation.”

Democratic lawmakers imposed a 2 percent tax on HMO premiums when they overrode Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s veto of a medical malpractice insurance reform bill that contained it.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, had predicted that HMOs would pass the tax onto their customers. At least three HMOs have said they will do so.

Mr. Redmer’s bulletin said HMOs could pass on the tax if they notify the Maryland Insurance Administration in writing of their intentions.

A legal opinion from the state attorney general’s office found no wrongdoing in the bulletin.

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