Advocates and workers spoke about the demands around jobs, care, and justice.

Annapolis, Maryland –  Yesterday evening, at Lawyer's Mall, a resounding call for health justice reverberated as various healthcare community groups, unions, and healthcare workers united to demand legislative action from Maryland's lawmakers. Organized by Progressive Maryland, Caring Across Maryland, End Medical Debt Maryland, Trans Rights Advocacy Coalition, CASA, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Maryland Healthcare for All and FreeState Justice, the rally of more than 80 in-person participants and 60 virtual attendees drew attention to nine critical health justice demands that encompassed the urgent needs of Marylanders across various healthcare sectors. The livestream of the action may be found on Progressive Maryland’s Facebook page. 

Advocates march in picket line around Lawyers Mall. Photo Credit: Camila Reynolds-Dominguez

Brige Dumais (they/them) from End Medical Debt Maryland emphasized the interconnectedness of the healthcare struggles, stating, "Our organizations are standing united today to demand JOBS, CARE, and JUSTICE. 'Health justice' isn't something we win through any one of these fights alone - it's what we win by being in these fights together."

The rally presented nine health justice demands, including fair wages for care workers, healthcare for immigrants, protection of gender-affirming care, safe staffing in healthcare, lower prescription drug costs for all, ending the stigma of HIV as a crime, workers' rights for home care, stopping health insurance company care and claim denials, and ending barriers to financial assistance for hospital care.

Speakers shared personal stories and called for specific legislative action, each naming the bill crucial for addressing their concerns.

Rhonda White (she/her), a Certified Medicine Aide & Geriatric Nursing Assistant &  1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East , highlighted the dire staffing crisis in healthcare facilities, calling for the passage of HB462/SB328, The Nursing Home Staffing Crisis Funding Act. "Healthcare workers are stuck in a painful cycle of not having enough workers, so more workers burnout and quit, and the short staffing cycle continues. We are so short-staffed because of low wages!"

Crystal Parker (she/her) from the Progressive Maryland Health Care Task Force highlighted the importance of having real healthcare security, focusing on bills like HB1137 and HB328. "What good is a health insurance policy if the insurance company won't let us use it? What good are financial assistance policies if hospitals have burdensome asset tests to deny income-eligible people?"

Delegate Jamila Woods (Sponsor of HB1137) & Progressive Maryland member, Mike Walsh

As the rally concluded, advocates formed a powerful picket line around Lawyer's Mall chanting "Healthcare is a human right! Fight, fight, fight!"


List of Bills Advocates Called on Legislators to Pass:

HB462/SB328 The Nursing Staffing Crisis Funding Act

HB728/SB705 Access to Care Act

HB691/SB119 Legal Protections - Gender Affirming Treatment

HB1194/SB1020 Hospital Safe Staffing Act

HB340/SB388 Prescription Drug Affordability Expansion

HB485/SB1165 Prohibition on Transfer of Human Immunodeficiency Virus - Repeal

HB39/SB197 Homecare Workers Rights Act

HB1137 Health Insurance - Appeals and Grievances Process - Reporting Requirements and Establishment of Workgroup

HB328 Hospitals - Financial Assistance Policies - Revisions