Opinion: Maryland Needs the Commission on Universal Health Care
By Jared Schablein
The writer is chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.
It is no secret that the American health care system is broken and immoral. While other industrialized nations have achieved universal coverage, we have millions underinsured or uninsured and can’t afford the care they need. We’ve prioritized profits over people for way too long.
While it is true the expansion of Medicaid in Maryland has caused a significant decrease in the rate of the uninsured, there are still major gaps in health care access. Almost 6% of Marylanders are still uninsured, and Marylanders living in or near poverty are almost three times as likely to be uninsured.
Deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses create barriers for Marylanders who are insured from accessing prescription drugs and lifesaving medical services. In addition, rural areas like the Eastern Shore have a dangerous lack of access to vital health services resulting in most of us traveling more than two hours or to a different state for care.
To make matters worse, under our current health care system, there are discrepancies between white and minority patients. This often results in a lower standard of care and more cases of death in patients of color than white patients.
We know that providing health care coverage to all Marylanders will drastically lower costs for the state and provide better health outcomes in our communities. This is why passing SB493/HB610 Commission on Universal Health Care sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Sheila Ruth is crucial.
The Commission on Universal Health Care would create a Kirwan-like commission to develop a plan for a state universal health care program. This commission would be a significant victory for the Eastern Shore and the entire state.
It is time for the Maryland General Assembly to give us care and pass SB0493/HB0610.