Baltimore Sun
January 2024
Angela Roberts


“In what is shaping up to be a financially difficult year for the Maryland General Assembly, community health and hospital advocates hope state lawmakers consider bills that would improve access to care for low-income Marylanders, help reduce high-cost drug prices and reform prior authorization practices…

Another group that will be pushing for improved access to health care is the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition, led by longtime advocate Vincent DeMarco.

In September, DeMarco said the organization would be lobbying for legislation to expand the authority of the still-young Prescription Drug Affordability Board. If passed, the bill would allow the five-member board to use upper payment limits to make high-cost medications more affordable for all Marylanders — not just those who work for state and local governments.

Previously, DeMarco has pointed to polling conducted for the coalition by an Annapolis-based firm, which demonstrated strong support for the prospective bill. During the session, he also plans to cite a report published Tuesday by Public Citizen — a progressive consumer rights advocacy group — that showed the manufacturers of 10 high-cost drugs spent $22 billion more on advertising and self-enriching expenditures than research and development.

The report’s authors claimed that the finding counters common arguments from pharmaceutical companies — that regulating drug prices will reduce industry profits and capacity to invest in the research and development of new medicines.

And, DeMarco added, “These really wonderful drugs aren’t doing people any good if they can’t afford them.”

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Last modified: January 24, 2024