Maryland response to GOP attack on health care is in Assembly bill

Bills in the General Assembly would mobilize Maryland's response to the dangers to the state's health systems that are posed by the "repeal and replace" catastrophe in Congress. Progressive Maryland testified on the bills recently.

/PM BlogSpace Report/ Progressive Maryland presented written testimony last week on HB909, a bill to establish a commission that would monitor and defend against the adverse effects on the state of Maryland due to the expected GOP demolition of the Affordable Care Act at the federal level.

Donna Lewis, a volunteer leader with Progressive Maryland and other community groups, also shared her positive experience and story concerning the ACA with the House committee.

The proposed commission would help advise the General Assembly on ways to handle the significant cuts to health care subsidies and harmful changes to medicaid that the Trump administration and GOP leadership in Congress  are rushing to enact.  Health care advocates feel hopeful about the bill's chances of passage. To date, Governor Hogan has not indicated if he will sign it. He has not spoken up or out about this looming crisis in public health.

Last week Patty Snee, one of those testifying on PM's behalf, outlined the effects envisioned in a recent study on the subject. Since the testimony, the devastating "scoring" by the Congressional Budget Office showed that the "repeal and replace" effort in Congress would devastate the access to health care for millions; other analysts add that the changes are geared not to get more health care to the public but to provide huge tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

The Senate version of the bill, SB0571, was heard earlier (March 1) and has a veto-proof 31 co-sponsors. Following is Progressive Maryland's testimony on the House bill last week.

 Testimony from Progressive Maryland in Support of Maryland House Bill 909: Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act

TO:              Del. Pendergrass, Chair, and members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee

FROM:        Patty Snee and Jennifer Dwyer, Progressive Maryland

DATE:         March 10, 2017

POSITION:   Support

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of HB 909. Progressive Maryland, a statewide non-profit grassroots  organization with thousands of members and supporters across the state has worked for years to win health care reform on the state and federal level. Along with our affiliated community, faith, labor and social justice organizations we view affordable healthcare as a fundamental need and right for all Marylanders.

 HB 909 establishes a commission to study the impact of the imminent and likely repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA.) With more than 400,000 Maryland residents dependent upon the ACA for their healthcare coverage, our state government has a responsibility to its residents to find a way for people to maintain health care coverage if there are significant changes to federal health care policy. In conjunction with our national partners, Health Care for America Now and People's Action Institute, we have released a new report called A Cost Too High that describes the negative impact that the Republican plan to gut the ACA and slash  Medicaid will  have  on individuals, families, health care providers, jobs, and the state budget. The report is attached to this testimony. We believe that our study can help inform a future Commission's work and the work of the General Assembly on this very important issue now facing our state and our country.

 Maryland needs to be ready to deal with the consequences of the policies that the Trump Administration and Republican leaders in Congress are pushing. Progressive Maryland and dozens more consumer advocacy groups are part of the organizing and legislative efforts to oppose the proposal they are trying to hurry through this March and April. If we fail to stop enactment of these sweeping changes our state should have a plan and process in place that has us ready to respond.  People's lives are literally at stake so it is incumbent on us to be prepared. Setting up a commission is a smart move that will help generate advice to the General Assembly about how to move forward with health care policies and programs post-ACA. 

 We urge swift action and a favorable report for HB 909.