Few things would be more audacious than for everyone in Baltimore City to have quality, affordable health care, including full access to prevention and treatment for addictions. This would surely help the tens of thousands of Baltimore residents who have no health care coverage and suffer physically, emotionally, and financially as a result. It would also help all of us because everyone’s health insurance premiums now have to pay for the hospitalization of the uninsured, and we all also pay in many ways for the tragic and high social costs of drug and alcohol addiction.
Luckily, we are making progress toward this audacious goal. Thanks to the Governor’s Working Families and Small Business Health Care Coverage Act of 2007, we expanded health care coverage to over 100,000 low and middle income Maryland families. Concurrently, the state raised the tobacco tax by $1.00 to help finance the health care expansion and deter young people from buying tobacco products. Since the enactment of these laws in 2008, over 100,000 Baltimore City residents became newly insured and 73.9 million fewer packets of cigarettes were sold.
But, there is much more to do. We are all working to achieve health care for all at the national level, and we must also make sure that here in Maryland we meet that goal no matter what happens in Washington. We have a plan for Maryland that makes sure health care is affordable for everyone in our state and that addiction prevention and treatment is fully funded. We are proposing to fund this partly by increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol, which by themselves will substantially reduce smoking and alcohol abuse and save thousands of lives. Join our Health Care for All! coalition today and help us turn this audacious idea into reality for Baltimore and Maryland!