Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Ben Jealous on Friday updated his sweeping proposal to ensure all Marylanders received health care.
The former NAACP president, who first presented his “Medicare for All” plan in December, offered additional steps in his plan that includes extending the enrollment period for insurance signups and expanding outreach to underserved communities.
Jealous also proposes for residents who can’t afford a certain health care plan to receive care from community clinics and health care centers.
A main focus of the Jealous plan would be enrolling Marylanders already eligible into existing programs that would increase the state’s allotment of federal money and reduce the cost of single-payer in the future.
“The status quo is untenable,” he said in a statement. “Premiums have risen by double digits every year since this governor took office and countless Marylanders lack quality, affordable health care.”
His initial plan didn’t offer specific details on how the government would fund the universal health care proposal, but Jealous said he would create an advisory panel of labor union members, business owners, health care professionals and patient advocates to study it.
He noted his proposal would build on the $429 million in savings from the state’s current all-payer system, and that the state’s income or sales taxes could increase to help pay for the plan.
In his updated plan, Jealous would have Maryland work with neighboring states to offer access to more coverage. Thousands of Marylanders work in the federal government in the District and some commute to Northern Virginia.
His plan also calls for the state to examine a reinsurance waiver to protect extremely ill patients who enter the market from a spike in premiums, as well as adding subsidies above the 400 percent poverty line to ensure they gradually decline rather than steeply dropping off.
“Once I’m governor, with this plan, we’ll quickly begin expanding health care coverage and ultimately implement a single-payer system that protects vulnerable Marylanders and small businesses,” Jealous said.
Last month, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan presented a fiscal 2019 budget proposal that offers $11.5 billion toward the state’s Medicaid program. His proposal was criticized by some for reducing the mandated 3.5 percent pay raise for health care providers to 2 percent.