Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous unveiled a health care plan Wednesday that would ensure all state residents receive coverage.
The “MD Care” plan resembles one from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who will join Jealous Wednesday night at a “Medicare for All” rally at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore.
“We will make sure everybody in Maryland has health care,” Jealous said in an interview. “The core of this program is to use discretionary dollars further [and] cut unnecessary overhead.”
According to the 19-page proposal, Maryland has an “all-payer” health care system that requires insurers to pay a standard rate for those who receive hospital services.
Jealous said federal law prevents the federal government to receive lower deals on medicines, states and local governments can negotiate better options.
“Americans are 5 percent of the world’s people, but 60 percent of the Big Pharma’s profits,” he said. “There is a much better deal to be done.”
Jealous is attempting to stand out among a crowded Democratic field of seven other challengers in the June 26 primary to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Because his plan doesn’t offer any specific details on how the government would fund the universal health care proposal, Jealous would create an advisory panel of those in labor unions, business owners, health care professionals and patient advocates to study it.
His proposal would build on the $429 million in savings from the state’s current all-payer system. He said it’s possible the state’s income or sales taxes could increase to help pay for the plan.
The proposal outlines how states such as California and Vermont conducted research on a single-payer system, though the California legislature shelved the plan this year after failing to agree on how to pay for it.
Sanders’ home state of Vermont has a smaller population than Maryland and such a system would’ve financially stressed that state.
Jealous’ plan would also provide coverage for vision, dental and mental health.
“We have a moral responsibility to make sure that our neighbors have health care,” he said. “We have an academic imperative to deliver to the employers and the workers of the state with a system that provides real health care.”
Some of his opponents offered a few health care ideas for Maryland.
Both state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross said they would establish a state-run public option for the state to create a health program and compete with private insurance companies to expand health care coverage.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a policy consultant and wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), said she supports universal health care on the federal level. She would strengthen the Maryland’s all-payer system to provide dental, behavioral and mental health services.
“I will advocate for legislation that will, in part, allow Maryland individuals and families the option of buying into Medicaid as an affordable alternative to private insurance,” she said.