Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
I spent eight years on the Health and Government Operations Committee, the primary health policy committee for the Maryland House of Delegates, where I worked to provide Marylanders with safe, affordable, and effective access to expanded healthcare services. I believe that every Marylander deserves quality, affordable healthcare and will continue to make that my mission in Annapolis. For the past two years, I have served as the Chairman to the Health and Social Services Subcommittee on Appropriations, taking all I have learned over eight years of policy work to improve our State’s healthcare budgeting and financing. Given the unique way Maryland handles the budget between the Governor and the state legislature, my committee and subcommittee have the difficult task of trying to find funding for important state departments and programs. I have positioned myself as a strong advocate for the Developmentally Delayed community, fighting for things like rate increases for service providers, temporary disability assistance, and other issues that greatly impact the more vulnerable members of our society. I am honored to say that Arc of Maryland and MACS (Maryland Association of Community Services) have named me as Legislator of the Year!
Since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, Maryland has been at the forefront of innovation for healthcare reform. Through the Health Benefit Exchange, we’ve been able to extend healthcare coverage to an additional 500,000 Marylanders, bringing the uninsured population down to about 6.7%, roughly 3 points lower than the national average. We have been working with medical providers, business owners, and the insurance companies to find fixes for the problems that arise with the healthcare market, not an easy task as the status quo is constantly in motion.
With health care access currently being threatened in Washington, I am working on making sure Marylanders continue to get access to affordable care, and am always exploring new ways to achieve universal coverage. With our country facing some of the highest per capita costs for medical care, and some of the worst health care outcomes in the industrialized world, I believe that there are better ways to provide for universal coverage. This year, I proposed a plan to offer single payer, universal healthcare in Maryland. Funded by a payroll tax to employers, everyone in Maryland who is not already receiving their healthcare via the federal government would be able to get coverage. Insurance companies would function as MCOs, so the insurance market would not have to be abolished, and those jobs would still be vitally important. Catastrophic coverage and reinsurance for insurance companies would be unnecessary. When you think about how Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare are implemented, the concept becomes much less intimidating.
In addition to serving on the House ACA workgroup, I’ve also been a part of the workgroup addressing the Opioid Crisis. We are approaching the issue from multiple angles, discussing prescription rates, mental health services, overdose prevention, rehab treatments and others. Maryland has been especially hard hit and we are committed to finding real, workable solutions.
I have also protected children specifically and the public at large from looping public health and safety concerns. I worked to eliminate harmful chemicals such as BPA from children’s products, helped to eliminate lead from products and buildings, and restricted the use of corded window blinds that have strangled children. I continue to work on public health issues such as obesity, tobacco use, prescription drugs, and artificial tanning to ensure that the health of the public is one of my top priorities.