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Tobacco Taxes
February 4, 2015
Rebecca Wagner, our executive director, gave testimony in support of SB37, which increases the tobacco tax rates on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including cigars and smokeless tobacco. The increase in the state’s tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack for cigarettes with a comparable increase for other tobacco products will be a further deterrant to teen and adult tobacco use. A decrease in use will save lives and reduce state health care costs for treatment of tobacco-related ailments. To read testimony, click here.

Maternal Mental Health
February 4, 2015

Neha Trivedi, our health policy director, wrote testimony in support of SB74, which creates a task force to study maternal mental health disorders and then make recommendations to address the unmet needs of this vulnerable population.  Advocates for Children and Youth is particularly interested in making sure that young mothers in Maryland have access to appropriate mental health services during their pregnancies and throughout the year following the birth of their child. To read testimony, click here.

Tanning Facilities and Minors
February 12, 2015
Neha Trivedi, our health policy director, wrote testimony in support of HB56/SB152, which prohibits owners, employees, and operators of tanning facilities from allowing minors to use tanning devices. In fulfilling our mission, Advocates for Children and Youth identifies opportunities to improve the health and well-being of Maryland’s young people.  Limiting access by minors to cancer causing devices and thereby reducing the number youth likely to be diagnosed with melanoma across their lifespan is one such opportunity. To read testimony, click here.

UPDATE: HB56/SB152 received unfavorable reports from the Health Government Operations Committee and Finance Committee. 

Tax Exemption for Sales of Select Bottled Water
February 25, 2015
Neha Trivedi, health policy director, wrote testimony in support of SB574/HB261, which exempts sales tax for certain sales of bottled water. Water is a healthier alternative to sugary drinks. We believe that consumption of bottled water with fluoride supports the goal of reduced sugar consumption and strong teeth. To repeal the 6 percent Maryland sales tax on bottled water will allow for affordable, safe, highly accessible drinking water. To read testimony, click here.

UPDATE: HB261 received an unfavorable report from the Ways and Means Committee. 

Healthy Drink Choices Available in Bundled Kids Meals at Restaurants
March 3, 2015
Neha Trivedi, health policy director, wrote testimony in support of HB1090/SB742, which allows restaurants to make healthy choices more available to children and families by offering 100 percent juice, bottled water and low-fat milk as part of their bundled kids’ meal menu price. Every day, one-third of all Maryland families “eat out” at restaurants. When kids eat at restaurants, they consume 2 times as many calories as when they eat at home. Many of the extra calories come from the sugary drink included in the kids’ meal. Parents often have to pay extra in order to get a healthy drink for their child. This bill puts parents back in control of their children’s food choices. To read testimony, click here.

UPDATE: Hb1090 received an unfavorable report from the Economic Matters Committee. 

Definition of Health Literacy
March 10, 2015
Advocates for Children and Youth is an active member of Health Literacy Maryland (HLMD). HLMD supports the definition of health literacy as the result of the interaction between patients’ skills and abilities and the difficulty and complexity of the health care system. HB580 will assure that those in the health professions will have the necessary skills to communicate effectively with every patient. To read testimony, click here.

Monitoring Bills that Impact Health of Children and Families in Maryland
Advocates for Children and Youth will closely monitor and submit testimony as needed to address budgetary cut backs that will impact the health and well being of children and families, including:

  • Proposed reductions in Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women
  • Reductions in provider rates
  • Reduction in funding for the Connector Entities Program
  • Proposed elimination of guaranteed baseline funding for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
  • Proposed mental health cuts

February 12, 2015
Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families recently published an article in their Children’s Health Policy Blog highlighting the effect of the Medicaid pregnancy coverage cuts. To read the blog, click here.

February 24, 2015
Neha Trivedi, health policy director, wrote testimony in support of HB739, which creates a task force to study maternal mental health disorders and then make recommendations to address the unmet needs of this vulnerable population. Advocates for Children and Youth is particularly interested in making sure that young mothers in Maryland have access to appropriate mental health services during their pregnancies and throughout the year following the birth of their child. To read testimony, click here.

February 26, 2015
The proposed Medicaid cuts lowering eligibility for pregnant women from 250% FPL to 185% FPL and elimination of the Medicaid Family Planning Program will be heard by the Health Subcommittees of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee the week of March 2nd. ACY has signed on to a letter to both Chairmen of these committees with other consumer advocates to keep Medicaid income eligibility for pregnant women at 250% FPL and keep the Medicaid Family Planning Program. To read the letter, click here.

March 13, 2015
The House Appropriations Committee, Chaired by Maggie McIntosh, approved recommendations from the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee to:

  • Reverse proposed cuts in the Medicaid budget. These include rates for provider payments and the eligibility levels for access to pregnancy-related care, as well as family planning services for low-income women.
  • Reject the recommendation of the Department of Legislative Services to cut $4 million the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange’s budget for the Connector Entity Program. The work of all the in-person assisters have been pivotal in providing enrollment services. The Connector Entity Program has been particularly important because they are the trusted voices in their communities with unique knowledge of those most in need of health care coverage.

ACY appreciates the decision the members of the Appropriations Committee made. We are eagerly waiting for the approved budget to pass in the full House, and the same decisions are made on the Senate side.