Emergency legislation aims to increase access to health care in state of emergency

Emergency legislation aims to increase access to health care in state of emergency

House Speaker Adrienne Jones joined Gov. Larry Hogan at a news conference on Monday afternoon where he updated Marylanders on the state's coronavirus response. (Governor's Office photo)

Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and Sen. Clarence Lam announced on Monday evening the introduction of emergency legislation to increase access to health care and protect Marylanders during the current state of emergency.

“We must all work together to make sure that every Marylander is able to access resources to protect themselves from the Coronavirus,” Ferguson, said in a statement. He thanked Lam and his staff “for their hard work on this issue.”

Jones characterized the legislation as “a proactive step.”

“We want to ensure that the Governor and Department of Health have all the tools in the toolbox to ensure the safety of Maryland residents,” she said in the statement. “This is a proactive step to enable the State to prevent COVID-19 from getting a larger foothold in the State.”

Under the legislation, the following provisions would be in effect in a declared catastrophic health emergency:

  • Reducing barriers to screening tests by restricting and reducing costs
  • Improving access to telehealth so all Marylanders can access health care
  • Improving access to the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available
  • Ensuring that people under quarantine or isolation cannot lose their jobs
  • Prohibiting price gouging

Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Howard and Baltimore counties)

“As a public health physician, I recognized the likelihood of a potential pandemic early last week after multiple cases of community-acquired cases were reported throughout the country,” Lam (D-Howard and Baltimore counties) said in the statement.  “My staff and I started examining emergency legislation that we could enact to empower the governor with the tools needed to protect the health and wellbeing of Marylanders, and so I’m pleased that this bill was ready to go when the first cases were reported in Maryland late last week.”

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