Gutting Medicaid will harm generations to come (Opinion Baltimore Sun)

Elijah Cummings, Leana S. Wen, Kevin Lindamood

A bill to fundamentally change the way Americans purchase and receive health care passed the House of Representatives and is now waiting consideration in the Senate. The bill, which was opposed by nearly every major medical organization, threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans with public and private insurance.

The bill would effectively gut Medicaid, the program that today, thanks to expansion under the Affordable Care Act(ACA), ensures health services for 74 million Americans, including nearly 1.3 million Marylanders. As leaders and frontline health professionals, we see daily how Medicaid saves lives and provides hope and stability, and our state must join a growing national effort to preserve it.

On Monday, we will join with leaders from the NAACP, Health Care Access Maryland, Health Care for All! and advocates around the state at a public forum to advance our work here in Maryland to save Medicaid. We start that work by making sure elected officials and fellow citizens alike know and understand the role of Medicaid in safeguarding health and life in Baltimore, Maryland and nationally.

Read entire op-ed.

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How Medicaid fits into Maryland's opioid crisis (WYPR)

Sixty-four-year old Johnnie Davis has been treating his heroin addiction at the Bon Secours New Hope Treatment Center in West Baltimore for nearly 20 years.

“When I came here, I didn’t have no insurance,” he said. “And if I wasn’t here, I could imagine where my life would have turned because I was known for drugs — selling drugs.”

With no insurance and no job, Davis paid $8 a week for the Methadone program. The clinic later helped him get health coverage through Medicaid. For the last 18 years or so, his treatment has been covered in full.

Maryland is in the midst of an epidemic. More than 1,800 people died last year from overdosing on opioids, a 70-percent increase from the year before, according to data released last week by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Medicaid covers roughly 20 percent of Maryland residents, but Medicaid patients make up a larger portion of the Marylanders grappling with addiction.

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Baltimore’s Top Doctor: Why Aren’t We Treating Gun Violence Like A Health Crisis? (Huffington Post)

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner and an emergency room physician, wrote a moving op-ed last week after a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice. In it, she highlighted the daily horror of gun violence the medical community faces.

Wen has long argued that gun violence is a public health issue ― a medical emergency without a prevention plan.

“Medical professionals are trained to stanch bleeding, stitch wounds and patch up broken bodies,” she wrote in her piece for The New York Times, titled “What Bullets Do To Bodies.” “We are good at our jobs; most gunshot victims survive their wounds. But every day, we are plagued by the question of how to prevent these injuries in the first place, when the damage is so extensive from weapons so readily available.”

Wen spoke to HuffPost on Monday about why she believes gun violence is a public health issue, and what Baltimore is doing to prevent it. 

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Baltimore needs more funding for naloxone (WMAR)

The opioid epidemic has reached new levels in Maryland, increasing the need for life-saving medications like naloxone. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leanna Wen says there isn't enough naloxone to meet the demand. 

She says more than 800 people have been saved in the last two years with overdose reversal medications, but numbers are skyrocketing  driving up the costs of naloxone.

"We are short of funding for it," Wen said. "There's plenty of naloxone if we're able to buy it and the manufacturers have been generous in that we've received donations from some of the manufacturers and we've gotten thousands of units of Narcan from these manufacturers, but we should not depend on the charity of drug companies."

Dr. Wen says the Health Department is depending on the state and federal governments to provide funding for these medications.  

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