All Marylanders – and all Americans – deserve the right to quality and affordable health care. Maryland as a state has long been on the leading edge of innovation and prioritization in the health care industry. Even before the Affordable Care Act, Maryland successfully expanded access to affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of its citizens. I firmly believe that, on the federal level, we will move to a single payer system that provides health care for all. On the state level, as Governor, regardless of what happens in the federal government, I will prioritize expanding health care coverage and improving quality so that more Marylanders have the long-term security they deserve.
The Affordable Care Act was President Obama’s signature achievement, and with good reason. In Maryland, the rate of uninsured has been cut in half and it now sits at an all-time low. That’s real progress. We must defend it against attacks in Congress and do what we can on the state level to strengthen it.
For purely political reasons, Congressional Republicans’ top priority over the past seven years has been to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In fact, they’ve voted to repeal the ACA over 60 times since they took control of the House in 2010. Repealing the ACA would have a disastrous effect in Maryland. Over 550,000 Maryland citizens would lose their health care and premiums in the state would skyrocket, with low-income and elderly communities being hit the hardest. A repeal of the ACA would also be particularly damaging to Maryland’s one-of-a-kind all-payer waiver, which is worth an estimated $2-3 billion dollars per year.
If the Republican Congress has proven one thing, it’s that, as long as they are in power, they are not going to stop the attempts to repeal the ACA. In the most recent tax bill, the Republican Congress and Donald Trump repealed the individual mandate – threatening the solvency of the ACA markets. Millions of Marylanders rightfully worry that the massive revenue cuts from the tax bill will be followed by cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans’ priorities are clear – instead of working to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, they gave permanent tax cuts to the wealthy.
States across the country will be on the front lines leading the resistance, and Maryland should be no different. The states will also have to work to implement new and innovative solutions to lower health care costs and expand access without the help of the federal government. That includes creating a contingency fund to ensure that children in Maryland have health care if the federal government does not fund CHIP. Maryland also must consider whether it needs its own individual mandate to replace the one Republicans removed in their Tax Bill.
Throughout my career, I have worked with all interested parties in the health care system – doctors, insurers, hospitals, and patients. As Governor, I will convene those with a vested interest to find workable solutions that provide more quality and affordable health care to Marylanders. We will bolster and reward preventive care services that lower costs and create a healthier populace. We will work with schools, especially community schools, to ensure that children are being cared for and develop proper and healthy habits.
In our state, innovation in the health care sector is happening every day. The greatest health care research and policy minds in the world reside here in Maryland. We can find solutions, and we will. As Governor, I will not be satisfied until every single citizen in Maryland has access to quality and affordable care.