Text: MARYLAND CITIZENS' HEALTH INITIATIVE
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Text: Working to win quality, affordable health care for all Marylanders

Health Equity Resource Communities

Problem

All Marylanders deserve access to high-quality, affordable health care. However, health inequities based on race, ethnicity, disability, and place of residence persist throughout the state, as shown in maternal and infant mortality rates and other measures. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed these health inequities and highlighted the need to address them and otherwise improve health outcomes in our state. In underserved areas of the state, people with chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and substance and mental health disorders have worse health outcomes and are less able to get the care and treatment they need.

Solution

Health Equity Resource Communities

Our coalition is advocating for Maryland to create and fund Health Equity Resource Communities to help reduce health inequities. The Communities will provide grants, tax incentives, and health care provider loan repayment assistance to locations in the state with poor health outcomes that contribute to health inequities. They will will be modeled after the successful 2012-2016 Health Enterprise Zones Program which successfully increased access to health resources, improved residents’ health, reduced hospital admissions, and created cost savings. Supporting health will help reduce preventable hospital admissions, which will result in lower overall health care costs, including lower insurance premiums for everyone.

Increase Alcohol Tax

We support funding the Health Equity Resource Communities through a one cent per dollar increase in the state alcohol beverage sales tax. In 2011 our Coalition successfully advocated for the 2011 Maryland alcohol tax increase, which in addition to funding the Health Enterprise Zones Program also led to significant reductions in underage drinking, binge drinking, driving under the influence, and sexually transmitted infections. Since then, Maryland’s alcohol tax rate has fallen behind Washington D.C. and the funding for the Zones Program has sunset. Raising the state’s alcohol beverage sales tax in 2021 will generate necessary funds to create and provide continuous funding to the Health Equity Resource Communities and also create more community-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support programs to address substance use and mental health disorders. It will also reduce drinking, including by underage Marylanders and heavy drinkers, which in turn will save lives and reduce health care costs.

Important Reading

Take Action

1) Sign up for our email list to receive action alerts.

2) Encourage your organization to endorse the Health Equity Resource Communities Resolution below (or fill out and return the pdf version).