BALTIMORE (CN) — Joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders to unveil his plan for universal health care, the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor said his state is better positioned than any other to adopt a single-payer system.
Several hundred voters, most of them college students, gathered at Notre Dame of Maryland on Wednesday night for the rally.
Ben Jealous said his plan, MD-Care, would build on two pieces of groundwork legislation: former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s All-Payer system, which has saved Maryland an estimated $429 million, and President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“Total health care spending has increased by more than a trillion dollars in the last decade,” said Jealous. “Families with health care coverage are experiencing staggering increases in their premiums, with double-digit increases already in place for the next year.”
MD-Care has many parallels to the national plan promoted by Sanders. The Vermont senator told the crowd Wednesday that the time has come for America to catch up with the rest of the developed world and ensure that every citizen has health care coverage.
Jealous, a former national president and CEO of the NAACP, said the number of Marylanders who lack health care insurance is more than 350,000.
“As health care costs spiral out of control and thousands of Marylanders continue without any coverage at all, it is clear that continuing down our current path is unsustainable,” Jealous said.
“My plan ensures we not only make health care a human right, but we will do it while saving taxpayers money and maximizing the return on the billions of dollars being funneled into the current system,” he added. “MD-Care will control skyrocketing costs and simplify our health care system for businesses, people, and healthcare professionals.”
MD-Care would cover every person in the state regardless of where they work, and it would allow them to choose whichever health care provider they wish, Jealous said. Such choices should not be dictated by insurance companies, he said.
Jealous also said his plan would allow Marylanders with great business ideas to pursue their dreams and build the economy without the fear of losing their health care insurance coverage.
Sanders reminded the crowd that Republicans in Washington have merged the fight to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act with the tax bill winding its way through Congress.
“The American people are catching on and we’re not going to let them get away with this thing,” said Sanders, a former candidate for president. “If you think the political revolution is not going on you have another think coming.”
Sanders warned the crowd that if the tax bill gets to President Donald Trump in its current form, it would spell disaster for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
“This tax bill is going to hurt the poor and middle class of this country while putting billions of dollars back into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans and corporations,” Sanders said.