Paul Schwartz, State Legislation Committee Chair
Tax unfairness as an important issue that affects the taxpayers of Maryland is not an issue that has disappeared. What has disappeared is any interest on the part of the Maryland State legislature to do anything about it. Remember that when your state representatives come to solicit your vote. Remember to hold them accountable for not fighting for tax fairness. Remember to ask them why they didn’t fight to “decouple” your state return from your federal return so that you could continue to itemize on your state return even if you wanted to take the standard deduction on your federal return.
However, tax fairness is not the only issue that affects YOU. Pharmaceutical pricing is also an issue that affects us all and addressing the high price of pharmaceuticals is an issue that calls out for our support at both the federal and state levels.
As was the case with the federal tax plan needing the state legislature to mitigate the negative impact on Maryland taxpayers, a need that the legislature failed to address, the issue of high priced pharmaceuticals is likewise an issue that needs the state to mitigate the failure of the federal government to pass meaningful legislation regarding pharmaceuticals. HR3 designed to address pharmaceutical pricing was passed by the House of Representatives in March of 2019 but has sat on Mitch McConnell’s desk along with a whole host of other critical and much needed legislation. McConnell doesn’t refer to himself as the “grim reaper” for nothing. It is a title he has earned.
However, there is hope at the state level. Health Care for All/Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative has worked closely with the state legislature and has played a key role in the creation of the Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB). The board has seen bipartisan support but legislation to provide a funding source has been recently vetoed by Governor Hogan. The board has temporary funding and it is expected that the state legislature has enough votes to override the governor’s veto. At this point the Board is continuing its work to identify exactly how the high cost of drugs is hurting average Marylanders just like you.
That is where you come in. It is our intention to join forces with the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and AARP to support legislation that makes an impact on reducing the high price of pharmaceuticals. To achieve that end we are asking you to share your stories on how the high price of pharmaceuticals directly impacted you. You can share your stories on http://healthcareforall.com/2019/06/paying-too-much-for-prescription-drugs/. You can also receive more information on this initiative at the https://bit.ly/PDAB2020.
This is an issue that is also worthy of soliciting support from your state legislators when they show up to seek your vote. It is also of note that Montgomery County Senator Brian Feldman is the Co-Chair of the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission. You may remember that Senator Feldman was a strong supporter of the tax fairness legislation that we have been fighting for the last several years.