For Immediate Release: March 31, 2023
Media Contact: Gabriela Hernandez, [email protected] 

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Annapolis, MD – Over 155 healthcare advocates alongside uninsured Marylanders and allies gathered on Lawyer’s Mall Friday morning in an emergency action rally to urge Senate President Ferguson and the Senate Finance Committee to pass the Access to Care Act. After passing favorably in the House with 100-38 votes, HB588 has come to a halt in the Senate Finance Committee. With just days left in the Maryland 2023 legislative session, the state’s top advocacy, labor, business, community service providers, and faith organizations call on Senate President Bill Ferguson and Finance Chair Melony Griffith to take action on Access to Care on this critical bill.

This emergency rally comes just one day after over 100 of Maryland’s advocacy, labor, business, community service providers, and faith organizations signed onto a letter to Finance Committee Chair Melony Griffith and Senate President Bill Ferguson to move HB588.

The Access to Care Act (HB588) is a healthcare expansion bill that removes immigration status as a barrier for Marylanders to purchase health insurance on the exchange. Marylanders deserve the ability to enroll in affordable health insurance, regardless of their immigration status. In order to foster vibrant, healthy communities where all Marylanders can thrive, it is imperative that every individual in the state has access to quality healthcare.

House Bill sponsor, Delegate Bonnie Cullison, commented, “In Maryland, we have made a commitment to equitable access to health care for all our residents. The Access to Care Act is one very important tool to help us reach that goal. It will remove the immigration status barriers to our affordable health plans. This would provide more health and economic security for over 100,000 Marylanders who work and pay taxes in our state. It is a win-win proposition—families win when they are healthy; the State wins when fewer people use emergency departments as their primary care. And it is just the right thing to do for people.”

Other states such as Washington, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and even the District of Columbia have already expanded healthcare access to or established new programs for immigrant families ineligible for care through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. Maryland can continue to be a leader in caring for our most vulnerable by passing SB588.

Willie Flowers, NAACP MD State Conference President, “For our state to say that health is important to be a part of society, all residents need healthcare for themselves and their families to sustain in our Maryland society. That means seamless access to healthcare for everyone in Maryland. That is still the dream.”

“The Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition strongly urges the Maryland State Senate to quickly pass House Bill 588, the vital and life-saving Access to Care Act,” said Coalition President, Vincent DeMarco. “The over 325 faith, labor, business, and health care groups in our Coalition from around the state are committed to removing immigration barriers to health care coverage. This is the right thing to do. We all benefit when fewer people without healthcare coverage are using emergency rooms, which increases all of our health insurance premiums.”

The Senate has been an ally to the immigrant community in Maryland and the organizations look forward to their leadership to pass this bill into law this year.

CASA Member Jeannette Kenne has a hip problem that has been largely unattended because she lacks health insurance. This grandmother lives in a sixth-floor walkup apartment that she climbs with groceries, and after a long day of work. Worse yet, she has diabetes and no way to access treatment. She has served as a champion: “Sickness doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t consider immigration status. Imagine a mother with the above listed health issues living without health insurance. I don’t know what awaits me in the next minute. Please, I repeat please, vote for insurance for all so as to help dying mothers like me to be able to access health care.”