Advancing Affordable, Accessible, and Quality Healthcare

Maryland is at a crossroads, and as a legislator, my top priority is getting healthcare right. As our nation emerges from this Great Recession, our state is afforded the unique opportunity to implement the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as “ObamaCare”) the right way from the get-go. The nation’s eyes are upon Maryland as an early implementer of healthcare reform. Our actions over the coming years will affect not only the health and well-being of our population and our economy, but will set a national example for how to achieve low cost, high quality healthcare.

Healthcare is the single greatest driver of both the Federal and Maryland budgets, accounting for the greatest percentage of government spending when compared to any other sector of the economy. Our budgets, and indeed our very lives, depend upon the delivery of high value care in Maryland. As such, healthcare reform must be executed by trained, knowledgeable, and experienced legislators who are ready to hit the ground running. I have contributed to the implementation of the ACA at the federal level, have training from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and have worked on health policy in the Maryland General Assembly. With this background, I am uniquely positioned to help Maryland meet the challenges of implementing healthcare reform over the coming decade.

Maryland is an early implementer of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka, Health Care Reform), and we only have one chance to get this right the first time. We must ensure that our health policy leaders in Annapolis have the experience and training to usher in the transition from volume to value in healthcare.

Regardless of your health insurance status, there is much at stake as Maryland implements the ACA. We must strive to reduce rates of hospital-acquired infections, which afflict patients irrespective of their insurance coverage. We must align financial incentives to reward physicians for providing appropriate levels of care. The current Fee for Service model of reimbursement has, perversely, incentivized the systemic overuse of diagnostics and therapeutic treatments. There is much work to be done, and with your help in the Democratic Primary Election on June 24, 2014, I’ll work with our political leadership to advance the cause of high value health care reform.

Legislative Action Items:

  • CARE FOR THE VULNERABLE with Universal Healthcare Coverage because it is not only morally correct, it’s fiscally responsible
    1. 911 for primary care doesn’t work and results in increased health insurance premiums for everyone
    2. Prisons aren’t good places to treat the mentally ill and they’re costing us too much; we need to provide access to improve mental health care and should expand Mental Health Courts and Drug Courts across the state
  • Ensure that the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange (HIX) publicly reports cost AND quality data in addition to a consumer-friendly aggregate value indicator (e.g. 5 star evaluation).

  • Require Essential Health Benefits in the HIX marketplace to include mental, dental, and long-term care benefits, and explore financial mechanisms to fund these mandates.

  • Require Qualified Health Plans in the HIX marketplace to meet cost and quality criteria.

  • Explore the potential effects of increasing the employer penalty for ‘dumping’ employees into the individual HIX marketplace.

  • Authorize the State to use its purchasing power to drive down prescription drug prices for Medicaid beneficiaries and State employees, thereby bending the health care cost-curve and making Maryland's budget growth more sustainable.

  • Extend the Health Services and Cost Review Commission's All Payer Single Rate Setting authority to all ambulatory and outpatient settings so as to realize the proven cost-saving and disparity-reducing benefits that have been found in the inpatient setting.

  • Explore the potential of offering a public insurance option in the HIX.

  • Promote the Meaningful Use of interoperable Health Information Technology Electronic Health Records in the Health Information Exchange (HIE).

  • Standardize insurance forms and health care services pricing, creating a transparent chargemaster list, and regulate cost-sharing variability within health insurance plans.

  • Introduce tort reform measures that limit non-economic damages and begin to address defensive medicine practices by tying a physician's adherence to established medical best-practices guidelines to his liability under law.

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