I greatly appreciate Maryland Matters declaring “Public Health” to be a winner in the 2021 General Assembly session (“General Assembly Session 2021: Winners and Losers.”)
As you note, one of the main reasons public health was a winner was the enactment of the Health Equity Resource Communities legislation, which will address health disparities and improve health equity in our state. We were thrilled that the General Assembly allocated $59 million in funding for health equity communities over the next five years from secure funding sources.
This compares with the $15 million funding which the old Health Enterprise Zones had for their five years of operation. All of us considered this a tremendous victory, though we know we will have to go back at the end of five years to get continued funding for the program.
This success happened thanks to our lead sponsors, Senator Antonio Hayes and Delegates Erek Barron and Jazz Lewis, Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, as well as our broad coalition which made this legislation a priority, including the Maryland Hospital Association, the Johns Hopkins University, 1199 SEIU, MedChi, community health leaders, insurers, faith leaders and local government leaders.
— VINCENT DEMARCO
The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.