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Health advocacy group sends supportive mailers in key senate races

Maryland Matters
October 24, 2018
Danielle Gaines

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative is betting that public support for prescription drug affordability could boost the campaigns of three senators facing tough races for reelection.

The organization — which has courted pledges of support for a prescription drug affordability board from over 130 candidates for state office — sent mailers this week in support of Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick), Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. (D-Lower Shore).

“We are reminding voters that each of these senators has the courage to lead and win important health care battles for their constituents. If voters want lower prescription drug costs, these senators are on their side,” Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, said in a news release. “And we thank them for committing to help lead the way in the General Assembly next year to enact our Prescription Drug Affordability Board proposal to make high cost drugs more affordable for Marylanders.”

The Republican candidates challenging the incumbents are Craig Giangrande (District 3), Del. Christian J. Miele (District 8), and Del. Mary Beth Carozza (District 38). None of the three are among the 130 candidates statewide who have pledged to support the proposed legislation next year. Four of those who have signed the pledge are Republican candidates for House or Senate, the rest are Democrats.

Among those who have signed the pledge are Democratic gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous.

DeMarco said creation of a board to keep prescription drug prices in check enjoys widespread support in the state.

“Our polling shows that the public strongly supports our work on this issue, and we urge all candidates for state office to pledge their support in this important effort,” he said.

The mailers are expected to arrive at voters’ homes Wednesday. DeMarco said the nonprofit organization spent about $40,000 on the mailings, which were reported as independent expenditures to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

A scaled-back version of a bill to establish the board, House Bill 1194, passed the House of Delegates with 89 cosponsors late in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session, but ran out of time for passage by the Senate.

Klausmeier, Mathias and Young were cosponsors of a Senate version of the bill.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City), who lost in the Democratic primary election, was lead sponsor in the Senate. The coalition plans a news conference next week, on the eve of Election Day, when Klausmeier is expected to announce that she’ll be lead sponsor of a senate bill in 2019 if reelected.