The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that would establish Maryland as a single-payer state and Prince Georgians are encouraged by the legislation.

On March 5, testimony was held in the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee on the Healthy Maryland Act, a bill that would institute a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care legislation in the state. The co-president of National Nurses United, Jean Ross, RN, told the committee that Marylanders would benefit from such a health system.

Nicole Williams is a candidate for delegate in district 22, and said she supports the Healthy Maryland Act. (Courtesy Photo)

“At a time of turmoil in health policy, and increasing healthcare insecurity, Maryland can once again lead by guaranteeing healthcare for all,” Ross said. “In the most personal area of our lives, we can provide peace of mind. It’s time for Healthy Maryland. Guaranteed healthcare for all will also have an enormous, positive ripple effect throughout the economy.”

Ross said the Healthy Maryland Act would mean more jobs for people in clinical health care, less lost work time due to illness because people will get preventative care before they get sick and getting care in a timely manner. She noted that the bill, if it becomes law, will be a credit to the state’s economic growth and increase tax revenue.

The bill would take effect in 2020 and all Marylanders would be automatically enrolled in the program and receive benefits without regards to pre-existing conditions and on a non-discriminatory basis. The program would eliminate all insurance company premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

The program would include dental, vision and prescription drugs and would be comparable to private and public medical plans.

Prince Georgian Judy Alba, who is a registered nurse, said the bill would help expedite treatment of patients who need immediate attention.

“Every day at hospitals and clinics around the state, bedside nurses care for patients who have delayed care because of lack of insurance or because patients don’t have the insurance or cannot utilize the insurance they have because of high deductibles and co-pays,” Alba said. “That is wrong and it costs the patients and society more in the long run.”

The Trump administration’s amendments to Obamacare earlier this year through tax reform and other schemes have led many states to consider a single-payer system. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced legislation that would mandate that the U.S. adopt single-payer as its health care system.

If successful, Maryland would be the second state in the union to have a single-payer system. Vermont was the first, in 2011, but abandoned it in 2014 citing the costs to small businesses.

Presently, California and New York have been in consideration of some form of a single-payer system.

Maryland Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-District 22), of Prince George’s County, is the chief sponsor of the bill in his chamber. In the House of Delegates, Maryland Del. Erek Barron (D-District 24), of the county, is the chief sponsor and has the support of such Prince George’s County delegates as Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-District 24), Jimmy Tarlau (D-District 47A), Michael Jackson (D-District 27B), Alonzo Washington (D-District 22) and Angela Angel (D-District 25).
Nicole Williams is a candidate for delegate in District 22. Williams told the AFRO she likes the Health Maryland Act.

“It is a bill that I would support,” Williams said. “Health care is a huge concern to many Marylanders particularly with the way the Trump administration has tried to repeal Obamacare, especially getting rid of the mandate that requires all Americans have health insurance. This bill would help our state figure out options for people such as baby boomers, who continue to age.”

Williams said that the bill could help small businesses pay costs, also. Tarlau told the AFRO he is proud to support the bill but understands the legislative hurdles it faces.

“I support it but it will not pass this year,” he said. “There will be more time for discussion of this next year. This is a good bill because it would expand Medicare and make it easier for people to have coverage.”