Statement on Health Bills in the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session

HCHR-MD will continue to review the many healthcare bills through the session. For now, we have taken positions on 3 bills:

1. Healthy Maryland Act (HB1516/SB1002) 

Introduced by Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Erek L. Barron.

Summary: This legislation seeks to expand health coverage to all Marylanders by obtaining waivers from the federal government and changes to federal laws. All state and federal healthcare dollars could then be  pooled into a single fund that would cover the healthcare needs of all Maryland residents..  New federal waivers and changes in federal law will be difficult to obtain and could have unintended consequences such as harming Medicare.

Position: Not endorsed/Not opposed. Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland supports attempts toward universal coverage at the state level. We recognize that due to federal barriers, a single payer healthcare system is most achievable at the national level.

2. Safe Consumption Spaces (HB326/SB288)

Introduced by Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Dan Morhaim.

Summary: This legislation authorizes the establishment of an Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Supervised Drug Consumption Facility Program by a community-based organization to provide a place for the consumption of pre-obtained drugs, provide sterile needles, administer first aid as needed, and provide certain other services.

Position: Support. The provision of safe and supervised space for drug consumption is an important step for reduction of harm to the individual user, including preventing death from overdose, and protects public health. It begins the process of treating drug consumption as a public health issue rather than a punitive approach. 

There will be a lobby day organized by the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition to advocate harm reduction policies on March 7, with buses traveling from Baltimore.

3. Protect Maryland Health Care Act (SB1011/HB1167)

Introduced by Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk.

Summary: Starting in 2020, Marylanders who are without health insurance will be assessed a penalty that will either be used to enroll the person in a ‘zero cost’ health insurance plan or held in escrow to be applied as a ‘down payment’ on health insurance during the next open enrollment period. If health insurance is not purchased, the penalty is forfeited.

Position: Oppose. Marylanders who cannot afford health insurance should not be penalized on top of being without health insurance. And Marylanders should not be forced to purchase cheap and shoddy private health insurance that requires high out-of-pocket spending before coverage is provided. Insurance mandates line the pockets of private health insurers that already have high cash reserves. Health Care is a Human Right Maryland supports a National Improved Medicare for All, as embodied in HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act.

Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland Supports House Democrats' Call to Action on HR-676

“Healthcare is a human right, not a luxury,” said Brittany Shannahan, Organizer for Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland. “Where the AHCA and President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would retract Medicaid coverage from America’s most vulnerable and marginalized citizens and make health insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions, HR-676 sets out a bold vision for a future that is based on caring for one another. The initiative shown by Representative Conyers, Representative Raskin and the other co-sponsors of this bill demonstrates the sort of leadership we need to see in Washington.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Frederick County Residents Rally to Demand Single Payer


April 8, 2017

“Healthcare is a Human Right”: Frederick County Residents Rally to Demand Single Payer

FREDERICK, Maryland – On Saturday, April 8, around a hundred people gathered in Frederick for a march and rally organized by Frederick Progressives and the Frederick Chapter of Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland in support of HR-676, National Improved Medicare For All.

Wearing yellow T-Shirts reading “Healthcare is a Human Right”, marchers assembled at the Baker Park Bandshell and made their way through downtown Frederick to Carroll Creek Park Amphitheater.

Speakers included a member of the clergy, health practitioners and local residents who recounted a number of struggles with the current, for-profit health insurance system.

“One of the things we’ve got to do is get out of the idea that insurance is a blanket that covers us”, said James French of Healthcare Is a Human Right Maryland. “We know that this can be paid for because so much is wasted by the industry now… We know there’s a model, we know there’s the funding, we can make it happen as long as we get elected officials who aren’t afraid of the insurance industry.”

The next speaker, Chris Adams, spoke about living with X-linked hypophosphatemia – a rare genetic disorder – and about how he lost his home and had to declare bankruptcy because of the costs of his treatment: “I believe that if my medical insurance had covered my medical bills, I would have been able to save my home and avoid bankruptcy”

James Van Kuilenburg of Support FCPF Trans Students spoke about the toll of the current system on the transgender population: “Trans people are some of the most likely to face unemployment and poverty, especially trans people of color. Because our current flawed system of healthcare is heavily reliant on employer-provided insurance, without benefit-paid work, many in our community remain uninsured…While trans people have benefited under the Affordable Care Act, there is still much work that needs to be done to ensure full access… We just want the right to obtain a pap smear as a trans man, or a routine prostate check as a trans woman. Currently, our for-profit insurers regularly deny these life-saving procedures…Trans people need single payer healthcare”.

Dr. Margaret Flowers of Healthcare is a Human Right and Health over Profit for Everyone told the crowd that in all her years of advocating for HR-676, she’d never seen this level of momentum for single payer. Flowers spoke about how the pressure that Healthcare is a Human Right and other campaign groups placed on Representatives Anthony Brown and John Sarbanes had successfully propelled them to co-sponsor the bill.

After the rally had ended, Sasha Czeh, who as a child had watched her mother struggle with healthcare bills while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, stated that National Improved Medicare For All is not only the most ethical path of action, but also the most fiscally responsible one. “The costs of [not implementing a single payer system] are transferred into our disability and social security system, into our social services and prison system, after people don’t get mental health care or addiction treatment. The human cost of delaying that care is a higher price than any actual treatment”.

Beth Landry, a Frederick-based nurse and organizer of today’s event, said, “Years of direct patient care has shown me that people suffer when they lack insurance coverage and have significant barriers to healthcare. Our country needs to adopt a system that honors the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and guarantees quality healthcare to every individual regardless of their income or zip code.”

Millicent Hall, 34, of Middletown, attended the rally with her husband and two daughters, one of whom “has three different processing disorders”. After spending most of their Health Savings Account on her assessments, Hall said, “we can’t afford her actual treatment… [which] will end up costing more than our mortgage a month. What bothers me is we didn’t do this, we didn’t ask for it. A doctor told us she needs it. How are we supposed to come up with an extra $1600 a month?”

Of the two House Representatives whose districts cover Frederick County, one, Jamie Raskin, has cosponsored HR-676. John Delaney has not endorsed Medicare for All.

The Frederick Chapter of Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland will be hosting a postcard-writing party in support of HR-676 on Thursday, April 13, at the Frederick Friends Meeting House at 723 N Market Street at 7PM. Kids will be welcome: please contact for more information.

For more information about the rally or the campaign, please contact Frederick County Progressives Chair, Beth Landry, RN via or 443 366 9402, or Brittany Shannahan at or 443-592-5353.


On Saturday, April 8th, from 4:00-5:00 PM, the westernmost chapter of Progressive Maryland, the Frederick County Progressives and the Frederick chapter of Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland will host a march and Rally for Healthcare for All in downtown Frederick! The event will take place on a national day of action to raise awareness of and support for National, Improved Medicare for All, as outlined in Bill HR-676, as the solution we need to our systemic health insurance crisis. 

The rally will take pace at the Carroll Creek Park Amphitheater, with an alternate rain time/location at the C. Burr Artz Library Community Room from 3-4:30. Marchers will need to gather at 3pm at the Baker Park Bandshell.

The rally will feature guest speakers such as Dr. Margaret Flowers (Healthcare is a Human Right Maryland), Mike Hersh of Progressive Democrats of America, and local Frederick healthcare providers and survivors of our broken insurance system.

For more information about the rally or the campaign, please contact Frederick County Progressives Chair, Beth Landry, RN via or 443 366 9402, or Brittany Shannahan at or 443-592-5353.

Frederick County Libraries neither support or endorse the views of sponsors or presenters of this event (should the rain location be utilized).