Annapolis, Md. – The Anne Arundel County Council passed a resolution endorsing a nationwide Medicare for All program yesterday, sending a strong message of support for ending for-profit health care in favor of a universal system without copays or out-of-pocket costs.
The resolution is the culmination of years of advocacy by Chrissy and Art Holt, Phil Ateto and Rob Smith, all members of the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition, with support from National Nurses United Progressive Maryland, Our Revolution Maryland and Public Citizen.
Lisa Rodvien, who represents Anne Arundel County’s 6th District, introduced the resolution. “This resolution will add another voice to the growing call for Medicare for All,” said Rodvien. “It is long past time to ensure that every American, regardless of income or employment status, has access to comprehensive healthcare.”
Anne Arundel County is the sixth municipality in Maryland and the 125th nationwide to pass a resolution in support of Medicare for All, following Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Charles County, Annapolis and Frederick.
The Anne Arundel County health department cites the persistence of racial, income, and geographic disparities in health measures for county residents, noting a 15-year difference in life expectancy between the census tracts with the lowest and highest life expectancies in the county. In 2020, COVID-19 caused 19.8% of deaths for Hispanic residents, compared to 5.9% of white residents. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 18% of Hispanics and 6.9% of Asians in Anne Arundel County were uninsured, compared to 3.2% of white residents.
Medicare for All is single-payer, universal healthcare represented by two federal bills: S-1655 in the Senate, introduced by Bernie Sanders (D-VT); and HR-3421, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Medicare for All would be free at the point of service, include dental, vision, and long term care, and cover everyone. Studies have shown that Medicare for All would create better health outcomes, at significantly lower costs, resulting in savings for taxpayers, communities, and municipal, county, and state governments.
“The current health system is not sustainable or equitable,” said Chrissy Holt of Annapolis. “The global COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that we can’t afford not to have universal healthcare. On top of this, Medicare for All makes financial sense. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it would provide the American people and our entire healthcare system $650 billion each in savings each year, improve the economy, eliminate all out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and save precious lives.”
“Medicare for All would save our local government a chunk of money and provide quality healthcare to everyone in the county. It really is that simple,” said Phil Ateto of Annapolis.
“Yes, Anne Arundel County has a low overall uninsurance rate, but that hides a lot and we could do better,” said Robert E. Smith, a county resident in Crofton. “For example, according to Health Department statistics, in 2020, 18% of Hispanic residents were uninsured. COVID-19 became the leading cause of death for Hispanics, accounting for 19.8% of deaths. That’s unacceptable. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed shortcomings in terms of both access to and continuity of care within our current healthcare system. Medicare for All would guarantee health care for EVERYBODY and ALL THE TIME with no gaps in that care.”