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Howard County Executive Ball advocates bill to create state prescription drug panel

Jess Nocera
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

County Executive Calvin Ball took part in an Eastern Shore event Thursday with other county executives to advocate creation of a state committee to review and establish what advocates say would be “affordable and fair” drug costs for state residents.

“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,” Ball, a Democrat, said in a press release.

The event supporting legislation to create a the establishment of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board was held in Cambridge in Dorchester County.

In addition to Ball, other county executives attending included Democrats Johnny Olszewski of Baltimore County, Steuart Pittman of Anne Arundel, Jan Gardner of Frederick, Marc Elrich of Montgomery, Angela Alsobrooks of Prince George’s and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, a health care consumer coalition, is endorsing the legislation. Vincent DeMarco, president of the organization, said they were “thrilled” to have local leaders “stand with us as we fight for the people of Maryland to bring down the costs of lifesaving drugs.”

“Too many Marylanders struggle to afford the drugs they need, and it’s time for the General Assembly to act,” DeMarco said in the press release. “Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.”

House of Delegates lead sponsor Joseline Peña-Melnyk, a Democrat representing District 21; as well as AARP Maryland State President James Campbell and Wandra Ashley-Williams, vice president of the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, also attended. Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh also backs the legislation, according to the initiative’s website.

State agencies review and approve costs for health insurance and service rates charged by hospitals. Two years ago the General Assembly passed legislation against price gouging on some drugs. Advocates say the drug board is needed to set rates for high-cost drugs.

The 2019 assembly session in Annapolis opens Wednesday.

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