GREAT PUBLIC HEALTH VICTORIES MARK THE 2012 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSIONS
Statement by Vincent DeMarco, President, Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition
Thanks to the leadership of Governor Martin O’Malley, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, and the Maryland General Assembly, the 2012 General Assembly Sessions made tremendous public health progress.
First, the landmark Health Care Exchange legislation will place Maryland at the forefront of states implementing the federal Affordable Care Act in a way that will make health care more affordable for all of us.
Second, by increasing the tax on little cigars to 70 percent of the wholesale price and by doubling the tax on smokeless (chew or spit) tobacco, thousands of young lives will be saved from addiction to these deadly products. This public health victory builds on the great success Maryland has had over the past decade in reducing teen smoking of cigarettes. Of course, we must do more. Maryland public health leaders will continue to fight to raise the tax on smokeless (chew or spit) tobacco to at least the level of the cigarette tax, and to increase the cigarette tax by another dollar per pack to save many more Marylanders from preventable tobacco caused illness and death.
Third, the FY 2013 budget will allocate the vast bulk of the revenue from the life-saving 2011 alcohol sales tax increase for the health care and public health needs originally proposed by the Lorraine Sheehan Alcohol Tax Coalition. The money will go to funding health care coverage for lower income adults; programs for people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues; drug and alcohol treatment and prevention; home and community-based care; and health care worker training. Our Executive and Legislative leadership have demonstrated that they believe a promise made is a promise kept.
In a year when it was very difficult to create new programs or raise taxes on specific products, these are amazing public health victories for Maryland. Thanks so much to the General Assembly leadership as well as the Governor and Lt. Governor for making this happen.