Neil Solomon, secretary of the Maryland department of health and mental hygiene, has asked officials to remove three major controversial agencies from his department.
The request caught officials by surprise and raised suspicions that Solomon had planted a smoke screen to hold on to the environmental health administration, which officials do want to remove from Solomon's department.
"The only thing discussed on this floor with any serious consideration is just the thing he does not want. So there is a lot of game playing going on," said Lt. Gov. Blair Lee III, refering to the executive wing's floor in the statehouse.
Solomon asked this week that a reorganization committee consider taking Medicaid, juvenile services and emergency medical services out of his department.
"As the secretary . . . I am in a good position to see the broadest picture of the functioning of the department and how our department can best serve our citizens," said Solomon.
Apparently he made the suggestion without consulting some of his top aides, who were at least as surprised as the committee when they heard Solomon tell the committee he wanted to get rid of their departments.
Essentially, Solomon wants to pass Medicaid on to the department of human resources because that department keeps track of paying the bills.
He wants the juvenile services administration removed and made into a separate department to insure that youngsters in trouble are accorded "the highest possible priority."
He would merge emergency medical services with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland.
While he would eliminate those agencies that have created the greater controversies, Solomon wants to overlap some of the duties of the water resources administration with his department. He said this would be done with the "whole man concept" that would include the entire environment.