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.