On the night of Sine Die, AARP Maryland advocacy volunteers are celebrating a slew of legislative victories during the 2019 General Assembly Session, including measures to promote affordable prescription drugs, protect nursing home patients, support veterans and combat energy rate hikes.
“Our remarkable AARP volunteers and staff fought valiantly this session to address the high cost of prescriptions and many other measures of importance to the 50+ and their families. And our efforts paid off” said Hank Greenberg, State Director of AARP Maryland.
“Against tremendous industry opposition, as the clock inched toward midnight the House and Senate conferees met to hash out last minute details and passed a groundbreaking measure to establish a prescription drug affordability board. It was an amazing night and day lobbying legislators, said Tammy Bresnahan, AARP Maryland’s associate state director for advocacy. “The move puts Maryland at the forefront of states seeking to combat the high cost of pharmaceuticals.”
“We could not have succeeded without the commitment, passion and perseverance of our corps of volunteer advocates,” said Bresnahan. “Week after week since January, they took to the halls of the State House, met with their representatives, explained the issues and made sure they knew where we stand. They spent countless hours helping with testimony and sharing their personal stories in an effort to bring about positive change in Maryland.”
The bill creates a first of its kind prescription drug affordability board. This board would be empowered to evaluate the cost of particularly expensive medications, or those whose prices increase significantly. If after such a review, the board determines that a particular medication presents an affordability challenge, it would recommend to set an upper payment limit for that medication for people covered by state or local government health care plans other than Medicaid.
Despite the best efforts and massive spending by the energy lobby, AARP volunteer advocates rose up to defeat HB 653/SB 572 Electric Companies and Gas Companies Alternative Rate Plan. The legislation, which would have upended the ability of the Public Service Commission to protect Maryland ratepayers from arbitrary rate increases and surcharges, sailed through the House of Delegates. However, after an outpouring of opposition from thousands of AARP volunteer advocates, with the Public Service Commission, Office of Peoples Counsel and Office of the Attorney General on their side, the measure was stymied in the Senate Finance Committee. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun editorial boards agreed that bill would have been a boon to utility companies, who would no longer have to back their rate requests with historical data, but would have been able to claim them based on future expense projections, whether or not the expenses would actually be incurred.
The 2019 General Assembly session was a bas that as premiums continued to spike in the rest of the nation, they actually went down in Maryland, staving off what could have been a death spiral for the individual market.
The Maryland House and Senate overwhelming supported Veteran’s legislation during the 2019 legislative session. Our advocacy lead and retired Veteran, Brian Smith had a very busy session working on Veterans issues! He worked with coalitions including the American Legion, VFW, and Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary George Owings. Brian was in Annapolis at least three times per week and the following legislation was successful because Brian represented AARP Maryland at every step of the way.
With more than 895,000 members in Maryland, AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
Thursday, Jul 25, 2019 at 10:00am
KESWICK MULTI-CARE CENTER
Thursday, Jul 18, 2019 at 9:00am
Cockeysville Sr Ctr
Thursday, Jul 18, 2019 at 9:30am
Laurel-beltsville Senior Center
JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR