Pugh, County Execs Take to the Airwaves to Promote Prescription Drug Affordability Board

    As lawmakers and advocates begin their big push this week for legislation that seeks to hold the line on rising prescription drug prices, they are being aided by Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) and the executives of Maryland’s seven largest counties.

    Pugh and the execs have each cut radio spots in favor of a bill to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. The legislation is being heard on Wednesday afternoon in the House Health and Government Operations Committee and in the Senate Finance Committee.

    The radio ads, paid for by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, are airing strategically in different Maryland media markets. One ad, being heard on WBAL, features Baltimore County Executive John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. (D) and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R). It goes like this:

    “Narrator: Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. Here’s Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski.

    “Olszewski: Millions of Marylanders can’t afford the medicines they need, and even healthy families are hurt by high drug prices because they drive up the cost of health insurance. Right now, the state legislature can do something about it.

    “Narrator: And here’s Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.

    “Glassman: There is a bipartisan solution that can save lives and lower health care costs. It’s to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, an independent body with the authority to evaluate high cost drugs and set fair, affordable rates. In fact, residents strongly support this policy across party lines.

    “Narrator: Please call your legislators at 410-841-3000 and urge them to support the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. That’s 410-841-3000. Paid for by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.”

    Variations of the ad are running throughout the state. One, airing on WTOP, features Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) and Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D).

    Another, airing on Radio One stations in Baltimore, features Pugh and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D). Yet another, airing on Radio One stations in the Washington, D.C., market, features Alsobrooks and Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.

    On WFMD, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) endorses the proposal, and on WNAV, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) outlines his support.

    Some of these officials are scheduled to appear at a State House news conference Wednesday afternoon with the bill’s sponsors — Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) and Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) — and advocates who are supporting the legislation.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.