Md. Citizens’ Health Initiative to Launch Major Ad Campaign to Support

March 6, 2019

Contact: Vincent DeMarco, 410-591-9162

Md. Citizens’ Health Initiative to Launch Major Ad Campaign to Support

Prescription Drug Affordability Board

County Executives and Baltimore Mayor to Appear in Radio Ads Calling for General Assembly Action

WHAT: Press conference to announce launch of major radio and social media ad campaign to support legislation to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board

WHEN: Wednesday March 6, 2019, 12 Noon

WHO:  Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, lead Senate sponsor

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, lead House sponsor

Del. Darryl Barnes, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh

Residents hurt by high prescription drug prices and coalition partners

Vincent DeMarco, President, Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative

WHERE:  Treaty of Paris Restaurant, Maryland Inn, 16 Church Circle , Annapolis

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative will announce a major bipartisan ad campaign in support of legislation to create the Prescription Drug Affordability Board in Maryland, featuring seven county executives and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. The campaign ads will feature the eight local officials and will go up on radio stations across the state. The ads will also feature Del. Darryl Barnes (Prince George’s), the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, which has made the prescription drug legislation a priority. Attached are the scripts for the radio ads and you can hear them at http://healthcareforall.com/county-executive-radio-ads/ .

In addition to the radio ads, MCHI is launching a social media ad campaign on March 6th highlighting the stories of several Marylanders who have struggled to pay for the lifesaving drugs they need.  Also, AARP Maryland will air radio ads and Patients For Affordable Drugs will run digital ads in support of our campaign for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation.

“We are excited about partnering with these local officials on this unprecedented and bipartisan ad campaign to educate the public about the need for state action to bring down prescription drug costs,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “This is a pocketbook issue and a matter of life and death for many Marylanders, and we are proud to work with local officials to share information about the legislation. We appreciate the support of our local leaders and urge the General Assembly to take action now to make drug costs in the state fair and affordable.

The radio ads will feature Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Baltimore City Mayor Pugh, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr., Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, as well as Legislative Black Caucus Chair Delegate Darryl Barnes.

The legislation to create the Prescription Drug Affordability Board (Senate Bill 759 and House Bill 768) will have hearings in the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations Committees on March 6, after the press conference.

This Board will review and establish fair and affordable drug costs for Marylanders. Already in Maryland, state agencies review and approve costs for such things as health insurance and the rates hospitals can charge for services.

Along with the county executives and the mayor, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation has received support from the Annapolis City Council, Baltimore City Council, Montgomery County Council and Prince George’s County Council, as well as the Baltimore City Health Department and

Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, along with hundreds of faith, community, labor, business and health care groups from across Maryland.

“We are thrilled to have the support of these forward-looking local leaders. They will stand with us as we fight for the people of Maryland to bring down the costs of lifesaving drugs,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “Too many Marylanders struggle to afford the drugs they need, and it’s time for the General Assembly to act. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.”

“This is an important and much-needed measure for the people of Anne Arundel County and throughout Maryland,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman. “My fellow local leaders and I are well aware of the pressure many Marylanders are under to pay for the drugs they need.”

“So many people rely on prescription drugs to lead healthy lives, and it’s a tragedy that many of them struggle to pay for their medications. Some people must go without those lifesaving drugs simply because of the prices. This must stop,” said Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “We need a public watchdog to ensure people are paying fair and affordable costs for their prescription drugs, and I urge the legislature to establish the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.”

“People should be able to afford the medicines they need to stay healthy,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “Local governments are feeling the pinch of escalating drug costs, impacting our budgets. In the absence of action at the federal level to address drug affordability, the state needs to step in and do what’s best for all our residents.”

All of us in local government have felt the pain caused by escalating prescription drug prices,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. “That is why Republicans and Democrats all across the country are working together to make prescription drugs more affordable.  I support the Prescription Drug Affordability Board as an innovative way that we can address this problem at the state level.”

“Howard County has been and will continue to be at the forefront of health care innovations for our residents with initiatives such as ‘Healthy Howard’ – a holistic approach to providing health care to our uninsured that predated the ACA,” said Howard County Executive Ball. “Today, we are proud to support Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative’s proposed legislation to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to control soaring drug costs. Prescription drug prices are hurting people across Howard County and we need to stand up and speak up to help all Marylanders afford their medications.”

“I join with leaders across the state to urge the General Assembly to act in 2019 to bring prescription drug cost relief to people in Montgomery County and across the state,” said Montgomery County Executive Elrich. “This is a matter of life and death for many Marylanders. At a time when we cannot count on the federal government to help, this is a great opportunity for Maryland to lead the way to better drug coverage.”

“I am honored to stand with such a dynamic group of leaders in support of this important initiative to make prescription drugs more affordable,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.  “No one in Prince George’s County should ever be forced to choose between buying medicine or groceries.  I look forward to doing whatever I can to continue to improve the quality of life for the Citizens of Prince George’s County and throughout all of Maryland.”

“I join my fellow local leaders in strongly supporting the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation,” said Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. “We in Frederick like people all over Maryland know that skyrocketing drug prices hurt many of us.  High drug costs also are a strain on our county budget.  We will work hard to get this legislation enacted.”

“The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus strongly supports the Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation, “ said Black Caucus Chair Delegate Darryl Barnes. “We know that the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs hurts millions of Marylanders, including many African Americans.  We will do everything we can to get this legislation enacted so that Marylanders can better afford the high cost life-saving drugs they need.”

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