Digest

November 29, 2007

Statewide : GOP primary

Pipkin to enter race against Gilchrest

The hotly contested Republican primary in Maryland's 1st Congressional District looks likely to receive another jolt today when state Sen. E. J. Pipkin is expected to announce he's running for the seat held by nine-term Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest.

State Board of Elections records show that Pipkin had already filed to run for the seat. Pipkin did not return phone calls seeking comment.

He issued a news release yesterday afternoon saying he would make "a series of major announcements" about his political future today at five stops, all in the district, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties.

He joins four other Republicans who are trying to oust Gilchrest, a moderate known for his environmentalist views. The most prominent of those challengers is state Sen. Andrew P. Harris, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the race and gained the endorsements of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and some national conservative groups.

Pipkin gained prominence in the Democrat-controlled legislature with his outspoken criticism of the utility industry during a BGE rate crisis two years ago. In this fall's special legislative session, he was one of the most vocal opponents of Gov. Martin O'Malley's tax plan.

Andrew A. Green

Medicaid

State ruled too strict on at-home services

Maryland's second-highest court ruled yesterday that the state health department was using an overly strict standard in determining Medicaid eligibility for at-home health services.

The department rejected 85-year-old Ida Brown's application for coverage under the Older Adults Waiver Program in 2005 because it said the Alzheimer's patient did not require constant care from a licensed health practitioner, its standard for admission to the program.

But a three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals ruled that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's standard was stricter than federal eligibility requirements.

"Maryland cannot set a higher bar for eligibility under the Older Adults Waiver Program than is prescribed by the federal government," Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote in the opinion.

The ruling could affect as many as 13,000 Marylanders, said Mary Aquino, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Bureau who represented Brown. An AARP lawyer was also involved in the case.

"We think this is a very encouraging sign," said Tiffany Lundquist, a spokeswoman for AARP's Maryland office. "A lot of Marylanders have been suffering under these unfair standards."

Capital News Service

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