Mid-Shore Health Future: The Risks of Repealing the ACA on the Shore with Jeananne Sciabarra

On Thursday, Jeananne Sciabarra, Executive Director of Consumer Health First spoke in Kent County about the implications of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.”

Founded in 2006 as the Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform, the organization transitioned into CHF in 2016 with the same mission: to work collaboratively to promote health equity through access to comprehensive, high-quality and affordable health care for all Marylanders.

While the impact of repealing and replacing ACA with the currently proposed American Health Care Act (ACHA) would cause profound changes to healthcare nationwide, Sciabarra focused on what Marylanders, and specifically Congressional District, 1 would lose.

Talking about the rollback of Medicaid expansion, Sciabarra said that “the bottom line is that will push back the matching (between state and federal) to 50-50 which is going to make it extremely expensive for Maryland to continue that provision.” She added that on top of that, a block grant per capita system for each person enrolled in Medicaid would force the state to decide who doesn’t get services.

Also, in regard to hospitals, Sciabarra noted that Maryland has a unique rate-setting system that provides services at the same rate anywhere in the state and that during the expansion of Medicaid, uninsured costs went down $311 million between 2013-2015, and that with set amounts or “global budgets” hospitals were incentivized to participate in wellness programs to help people stay healthy and out of the hospital. A rollback of those kinds of programs would have a “catastrophic” effect on people not covered in the health exchange, especially older people.

The district’s uninsured rate has gone from 8.3% to 4.1% since the ACA was implemented. This 4.2 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate could be reversed if the ACA is entirely or partially repealed.

401,400 individuals in the district who now have health insurance that covers preventative services like cancer screenings and flu shots without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles stand to lose this access if the Republican Congress eliminates ACA provisions requiring health insurers to cover essential preventative services without cost-sharing.

445,400 individuals in the district with employer-sponsored health insurance are at risk of losing important consumer protections like the prohibition on annual and lifetime limits, protection against unfair policy recession, and coverage of pre-existing health conditions if the ACA is entirely or partially repealed.

15,800 individuals in the district who have purchased high-quality marketplace coverage now stand to lose their coverage if the Republican Congress dismantles the Marketplaces.

11,800 individuals in the district who received financial assistance to purchase Marketplace coverage in 2016 are now at risk of coverage becoming unaffordable if the Republican Congress eliminates the premium tax credits.

8400 individuals in the district who are receiving cost-sharing reductions to lower out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance, are now at risk of healthcare becoming unaffordable is the Republican Congress eliminates cost-sharing reductions.

32,900 individuals in the district who are covered by the ACA’s Medicaid expansion now stand to lose coverage if the Republican Congress eliminates the Medicaid expansion.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about Consumer Health First please go here. Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, Urban Institute, Families USA, The Commonwealth Fund, National Women’s Law Center.

UM Shore Regional Health Publishes Community Benefits Report Online

The 2016 Community Health Improvement Report is now published and available for viewing on the UM Shore Regional Health website at http://umshoreregional.org/news-and-events/news/2017/um-shore-regional-2016-community-health-improvement-report.

The report, which describes highlights of the community health improvement programs and conducted by UM SRH, includes articles on four initiatives: the Ask the Expert series; the inauguration of Shore Behavioral Health’s Bridge Clinic; the Stepping On program offered by the Balance Center in partnership with Maintaining Active Citizens (MAC); and guided support programs (classes, screenings, support groups, etc.) that support better health management.

According to Ken Kozel, UM SRH president and CEO, “The value of our community benefits programs and services, including charity care, exceeds $32 million, but the value is stronger than money. It is building healthier communities and our steadfast commitment to helping our patients and their families enjoy their best health and quality of life.”

Birthing Center Renovations in Progress

Renovations have begun at the Birthing Center at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, located at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton.

We're ExpectingAccording to Luann Satchell, manager of Women’s and Children’s Services at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the plan is to renovate two patient rooms at a time as to minimize disruption to Birthing Center patients, visitors and staff. The entire project, which will encompass the Center’s triage rooms, inpatient rooms, nurses station and hallways, will take approximately three to four months to complete.

“Our team members, many of whom have been with us since the Birthing Center opened more than twenty-one years ago, are excited for the opportunity to provide the same patient-centered care, in a modernized environment,” comments Satchell. “We believe that once completed, the renovated patient care areas will greatly enhance the overall patient experience, for mother and baby.”

While the Easton hospital has been delivering the region’s newest residents for several decades, the Birthing Center officially opened its doors in January, 1996 and since then has been offering expectant mothers the LDRP model of care — an approach allowing women and their families to experience labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum care in one suite for the duration of their stay. According to Satchell, in an LDRP environment, physicians, nurses and necessary equipment come to mother and baby to maximize comfort and the overall patient experience.

Local Ob-Gyn provider and Birthing Center medical director, Aisha Siddiqui, MD, FACOG, adds, “As affiliates of University of Maryland Medical System, our Ob-Gyn and midwifery providers are able to provide expectant mothers with leading-edge prenatal care, from conception to labor, delivery and postpartum care. Together with our stellar clinical team at the Birthing Center, we work hard to ensure that moms and babies receive quality care during their stay at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton. We couldn’t be more thrilled that after renovation, the Birthing Center environment will be just as superb as the care we’ve always provided there.”

To learn more about the Birthing Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton or the educational opportunities and support groups available to expectant and new mothers, visit umshoreregional.org/birthing. Information about Dr. Siddiqui’s practice, UM Community Medical Group- Women’s Health (Ob-Gyn) can be obtained by calling 410-820-4888.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

1st District Health Care Town Hall Meetings to be Held Without Rep. Andy Harris

Constituents in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District are growing increasingly concerned about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and are looking to their elected officials to help address those concerns. Many calls, letters, and emails to Representative Andy Harris’s office have gone unanswered, or answered without addressing specific concerns. Constituent requests for Representative Harris to hold an in-person town hall meeting have not been successful.

Citizens for Health Care, a local grassroots organization, has heard these concerns and will host a series of citizens town hall meetings entitled “Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Town Hall Meetings” intended to inform and educate constituents about the ACA and what it’s repeal could mean to them and their families and to consider methods to improve the ACA.

These town hall meetings will feature speakers from the professional healthcare community for an information session, as well as an open-panel question and answer session for public attendees. Representative Harris and other local elected officials have been invited to attend, in hopes of opening the lines of communication with their constituents and allowing for a discussion of what might come next. Hundreds of constituents have indicated they are interested in attending.

“At Citizens for Health Care, we understand that the subjects of health care and the ACA are not partisan issues: they are human issues,” said DeLane Lewis, one of the founders of Citizens for Health Care. “Congress is facing a dilemma at this moment, arguing whether to repeal or repair parts of the ACA. However, any decision they make will have a real, lasting impact on all U.S. citizens. It is our mission to keep the public informed and aware as to how these proposed changes could affect them.”

One of the major aims of the town hall meetings will be to answer the many questions that citizens currently have, including: What will be the impact on employer based plans? While all current and proposed plans, would continue to offer insurance for pre-existing conditions, under the ACA insurance companies are not allowed to charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. Will that be true under any new plan? In Maryland alone, almost 500,000 people are enrolled in health care coverage through the ACA. What will be the impact on the State of Maryland financially? On jobs?

Proposed plans that would eliminate current provisions of the ACA for federal financial assistance and Medicaid expansion are also of significant concern. According to research by the Urban Institute, eliminating individual and employer mandated, federal financial assistance and Medicaid expansion would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22.5 million. The group estimates that an additional 7.3 million Americans would lose their insurance due to anear collapse of the non group insurance market.

Speakers at the citizens town hall plan to review and compare coverage options and statistics from pre-ACA, versus current options, as well as the various policy aspects of proposed changes or replacements. Health care professionals will also be available to discuss the implications for addiction treatment and mental health care in the community, as the ACA has greatly expanded coverage in both of these areas. Additionally, the financial costs of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will be discussed to get a clear picture of the impact on the average healthcare consumer’s wallet.

The town hall meetings will be held as follows:

Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 pm, Harford Community College, Darlington Hall, Room 202, Bel Air
Thursday, February 23, 6 pm, Queen Anne’s County Library, 200 Library Circle, Stevensville
Friday, February 24, 6 pm, Salvation Army, 429 N Lake Drive, Salisbury
Thursday, March 2, 6 pm, St Paul’s UCC, 17 Bond Street, Westminster

Current guest speakers scheduled to appear include:

– Sue Ehlenberger, Maryland Health Connection-Seedco
– Mark Romaninsky, Maryland Health Connection-Seedco
– Jeananne Sciabarra, Consumer Health First
– Scot Hurley, Ashley Addiction Treatment
– Katia Callan, MSW, LCSW-C, Insight Wellness of Maryland
– Dr. James Burdick, author of Talking About Single Payer: Health Care Equality for America
– Dr. Margaret Flowers, Healthcare is a Human Right
– Kaylie Potter, Door to Healthcare

About Citizens for Health Care: Citizens for Health Care, located in Bel Air, Md., is a grassroots organization dedicated to providing education and information regarding the Affordable Care Act and proposed changes to the bill. For more information, please visithttps://www.facebook.com/CitizensforHealthCare/

 

UM Shore Health Moves Forward with Telehealth

A telehealth grant totaling $75,000 from the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) has been awarded to University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (UM SRH). The grant supports projects designed to expand access to needed services and specialists in palliative care and psychiatry for patients and their families in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. It is a collaboration between UM SRH, University of Maryland Medical System eHealth, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Telehealth utilizes telecommunications and related technologies such as video-conferencing, image capturing and use of remote examination tools to support health care services, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. The expanded telehealth capability aims to reduce hospital emergency department visits, inpatient admissions and readmissions; to enable the early provision of appropriate treatment; to improve access to care; and to provide cost savings to patients and providers.

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William Huffner, MD

“We are grateful to the MHCC for supporting this initiative that will significantly enhance patient care in medically underserved communities in rural Maryland,” said Robert A. Chrencik, MBA, CPA, president and CEO, University of Maryland Medical System. “This grant will allow us to use the latest in technology to expand the reach of our clinical services and increase access for patients.”

MHCC’s telehealth grant project was launched this month and continues through July 2018. Funds awarded through the grant will assist UM SRH in the purchase of varied telehealth technologies, training for UM SRH clinicians and other users on the use of telehealth equipment, and support for UM SOM research professionals involved in the project.

“The MHCC grant enables UM Shore Regional Health to apply state-of-the-art telehealth technology to close difficult gaps in rural healthcare,” says William Huffner, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president, Medical Affairs for UM SRH.

One significant gap in rural health care is caused by the nationwide shortage of skilled health care providers in key medical specialties. Palliative care and psychiatry are two arenas in which the scarcity of providers is a serious issue, especially in rural areas.

“We are very fortunate to have highly qualified physicians in both palliative care and psychiatry serving our patients through University of Maryland Community Medical Group,” Dr. Huffner notes. “However, the size of our region – five counties covering more than 1,700 square miles – makes it impossible to offer ongoing, on-site care at all locations at all times. The MHCC grant funding supports the expansion of our telehealth capabilities at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown and the installation of telehealth technology at UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and will enable us to improve access to care for residents of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.”

The grant funds, for which University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has agreed to provide a 2:1 financial match, also will support research on the most effective use of telehealth technology.

As Dr. Huffner explains, “Experience tells us that with any new technology, it is important to study how it is used in a way that will enable us to develop best practices. This grant will help us ensure that we make the best use of telehealth by addressing a number of questions, such as: What factors about a patient’s condition make the use of telehealth ideal or less than ideal? What are the boundaries of telehealth, in terms of patient tolerance and satisfaction? With regard to palliative care, one challenge we have sought to address is how to include not only patients but also key family members in palliative care discussions so that everyone understands the care options. Telehealth may prove very successful in achieving that goal by enabling the patient, the provider and family members, including those at varied remote locations, to participate in a three-way telehealth discussion.”

“Palliative care is a critical component of the care that we give to patients. The telehealth program is an innovative attempt to extend that care to more patients and families, over a wider area,” says University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the vice president for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity to further collaborate with our partners across the state to help improve the lives of underserved patients and their families.”

 

Easton Auxiliary Makes a $100,000 Donation

The Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton recently donated $100,000 to UM Memorial Hospital Foundation to support the Birthing Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton through proceeds raised by their thrift and consignment shop in Easton, The Bazaar at 121 Federal Street, Maggie’s Gift Shop and special event sales. The funds will support the renovation of the birthing center, which is now in progress.

“We very much appreciate the hard work the volunteers of the Easton Auxiliary put into raising money for our hospital”, says Luanne Satchell, nurse manager of the Women’s and Children’s Health Services at UM Shore Medical Center in Easton. “The funds donated by the Auxiliary are a pivotal part in helping us achieve our goal of providing the highest quality medical care in the region for new moms and their babies.”

Bazaar Check

Photo: (L to R): Elva Pierce, volunteer, co-head of the Bazaar; Janet Andrews, UM Memorial Hospital Foundation; Bob Frank, senior vice president of Operations for UM Shore Regional Health; Diane Bisanar, volunteer, co-head of the Bazaar; F. Graham Lee, vice president  for philanthropy, Art Cecil, president, Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton; Anne Davis, manager, The Bazaar at 121 Federal Street; Luanne Satchell, nurse manager, Women’s and Children’s Health Services at UM Shore Medical Center in Easton; and Celia Bodmer, head of Maggie’s Gift Shop.

The Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton works to raise funds for equipment, programs, services and patient care at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, and various outpatient locations throughout UM Shore Regional Health, including the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, the Cancer Center and various rehabilitation facilities.To support their fundraising efforts, the Auxiliary has two retail locations; The Bazaar at 121 Federal Street and Maggie’s Gift Shop, located inside the main entrance of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton.

The Bazaar at 121 Federal Street shop offers gently used designer and non-designer clothing for the entire family, shoes, fashion accessories and small household items. Maggie’s Gift Shop, managed and staffed exclusively by members of the Auxiliary, is located on the first floor of UM Shore Medical Center at Easton and offers a variety of unique gift items, jewelry, books, cards, holiday-themed decorations and snacks.

“We rely heavily on the sales of our two retail establishments to be able to give back and to help Shore Regional Health services and facilities,” says Art Cecil, president, Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton. “We encourage the community to come out and shop at The Bazaar and Maggie’s Gift Shop because not only are you buying for yourself, friends or family, but you are making a donation that will benefit healthcare in our community.”

Volunteers are currently being sought for both locations, and in other capacities throughout the Auxiliary. For more information, call 410-822-1000, extension 5839.

About UM Shore Regional Health: As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

More Marylanders Enroll in Health Exchange as Repeal Looms

Enrollment in the Maryland Health Exchange thus far has been climbing at faster rates than in previous years, while President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress have taken their first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 
 
As of Monday, more than 465,500 Marylanders had enrolled in the Maryland Health Connection since it opened on Nov. 1, surpassing the 457,862 who had enrolled by the same date last year. The enrollment period ends on Jan. 31
 
Delegate Clarence Lam, a Democrat representing Baltimore and Howard counties, and a physician, discusses the upcoming state budget and the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Delegate Clarence Lam, a Democrat representing Baltimore and Howard counties, and a physician, discusses the upcoming state budget and the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Of those 465,500, about 150,000 have enrolled in private health insurance and about 315,500 have enrolled in Medicaid. About 73,500 additional Marylanders have passively re-enrolled, meaning they will retain their same coverage if they do nothing to change their plans, according to data provided by Andrew Ratner, director of marketing and strategic initiatives at the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. 

 
However, an executive order Trump signed on his first day in office could pave the way to gut the Affordable Care Act, signaling its repeal as one of his top priorities. The order gives federal agencies the power to eliminate or loosen some regulations created by the health care law.  
 
This followed a Jan. 12 measure by the U.S. Senate to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act by passing a budget resolution that would make it easier to begin rolling back portions of the law. 
 
Health care advocates and state officials have been continuing to urge Marylanders to enroll in the exchange, touting the Affordable Care Act’s role in reducing the number of uninsured state residents by about 50 percent. Since the rollout of the health care law, the percentage of uninsured Marylanders has shrunk from 10.2 percent in 2013 to 6.6 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Census. 
 
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, the state could stand to lose up to $1.2 billion of federal funding for Medicaid and up to $200 million for other related services, according to David Romans, fiscal and policy analysis deputy director for the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.
 
The proposed 2018 state budget includes funding for 312,000 Marylanders who are enrolled under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, Romans said. Ninety-five percent of funding for Medicaid is provided by the federal government, but this number could be slashed in half if the health care law is repealed. 
 
To continue insuring the thousands of Marylanders who benefit from the Medicaid expansion, the state, which is already operating on a “lean budget,” would likely have to cut from other programs and services, Delegate Clarence Lam, D-Howard and Baltimore counties, told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. 
 
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed soon, the Maryland General Assembly may need to call a special session later in the year to address the budgetary concerns, Lam added. 
 
“There’s no place to get billions of dollars within the state of Maryland,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative. “We need to prevent the Affordable Care Act from being repealed and we’re going to work very hard to do that.” 
 
DeMarco has helped lead a recent health coverage enrollment initiative at a dozen faith organizations in Maryland over the inauguration weekend. He said he’s seen firsthand how the Affordable Care Act has saved the lives of the previously uninsured. 
 
“Any program that expands healthcare to 20 million plus Americans … is a huge success,” DeMarco said. “We’re going to protect it (and) we’re going to keep it there and build on it.”
 
About 18 million Americans would lose health insurance the first year after repealing the Affordable Care Act, according to a non-partisan report from the Congressional Budget Office. This number could double to 32 million by 2026, the office reported.
 
Moreover, premiums would increase by 20 percent to 25 percent in the first year, according to the same report. 
 
“It would be a significant step backwards to throw these people out of insurance and be concerned about how they pay their medical bills again,” Lam said. “That there are things that are afoot in Washington–maybe abstract or maybe things that we hear in the news–but at the end of the day there are real people being affected in our communities that will go without health insurance. We all pay for that.”
 
(Capital News Service correspondent Cara Newcomer contributed to this report.)

Recovery: Hogan Announces new Measures to Address Opioid Addiction

Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced Tuesday they are rolling out new legislation that would counter Maryland’s growing opioid addiction crisis.
 
The Prescriber Limits Act would prevent doctors from prescribing more than seven days worth of opioid painkillers during a patient’s first visit or consultation. The law exempts patients going through cancer treatment and those diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
 
The Distribution of Opioids Resulting in Death Act would introduce a new felony charge carrying up to 30 years in prison for people convicted of illegally selling opioids or opioid analogues that result in the death of a user. Rutherford said the law would carry protections for people who were selling to support their addiction.
 
And the Overdose Prevention Act authorizes the collection of and review of non-fatal overdose data and would make it easier for people to fill prescriptions for naloxone, a drug that can counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. 
 
Hogan and Rutherford, whom the governor has directed to focus on opioid addiction, announced the legislation in a press conference at Anne Arundel Medical Center on Tuesday
 
Rutherford also announced that the governor would sign an executive order that will create an Opioid Operations Command Center — a “virtual” task force charged with organizing training and funding for local anti-addiction teams as well as collecting data on opioid use and abuse. 
 
Hogan said that he did not fully appreciate the scope of the opioid epidemic until he began crisscrossing Maryland during the early phases of his gubernatorial campaign. He said he asked people in different parts of the state what their community’s biggest problem was and that, regardless of whether they were from a rural, urban, wealthy, or poor community, “the answer was always the same: heroin.”
 
Both Hogan and Rutherford appeared optimistic but acknowledged that the problem of opioid addiction is worsening in Maryland. Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh said that, at the start of his tenure a couple years ago, there was one overdose per day and one death per week from opioid abuse in his county. He said those figures have risen to two overdoses per day and two and a half deaths per week.
 
At the press conference, State’s Attorney Wes Adams, R-Anne Arundel, spoke about the recent death of his brother-in-law, who he said died of an opioid overdose.
 
Adams said his brother-in-law became addicted to opioids after being prescribed them following a surgery about eight years ago. He said he moved in and out of rehab centers and periodically became clean, only to relapse later. 
 
Adams lamented the obstacles from the medical and insurance industries that he and his family faced as they tried to keep his brother-in-law in treatment. 
 
He also expressed consternation over recently being prescribed a substantial supply of Oxycontin, an opioid pain-killer, following a medical procedure, despite telling his doctor that he was only experiencing moderate pain. 
 
He said angrily that the only major side-effect his pharmacist warned him of was constipation, despite the well-documented risk of addiction that use of the drug carries. 
By JACOB TAYLOR

Maryland Lawmakers, Residents Worried after Obamacare Repeal Report

First, Diana Muller’s vision starts to blur. Next, she loses feeling along her left side. Then comes the debilitating pain.

The 39-year-old Silver Spring resident suffers from seizure migraines, some of which last more than four days. But after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, worrying about how she would pay for health insurance was no longer a headache.

That changed after the election.

Now Muller, along with many of Maryland’s Democratic lawmakers, has plenty to worry about.

President-elect Donald Trump said throughout his campaign and in the months since his election that he would make repealing Obamacare a priority, although no clear replacement plan has been set forth.

The potential impact of such an action was revealed Tuesday, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report saying that 18 million people would lose their health insurance within a year if Congress repealed certain major provisions of the law.

Over the next decade, the report said, repealing the health care law without a plan to replace it could translate into an increase of 32 million uninsured Americans, while individual non-group insurance premiums could double.

“I’m really, really scared,” Muller said. “If the Affordable Care Act goes away, then so does my health insurance.”

The budget office’s report analyzed a proposed 2015 measure to repeal the bill, which was ultimately vetoed by Obama.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, criticized the report’s conclusions, saying it represented a “one-sided hypothetical scenario.”

“Today’s report shows only part of the equation – a repeal of Obamacare without any transitional policies or reforms to address costs and empower patients,” said Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Republicans support repealing Obamacare and implementing step by step reforms so that Americans have access to affordable health care.”

But Maryland Democrats have used the findings to fuel their fight against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the report a “damning indictment of Congressional Republicans’ irresponsible and dangerous repeal proposal.”

“This report ought to alarm all Americans who care deeply about the future of health care in our country and of our economy, no matter their political affiliation,” Hoyer said in a statement.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin tweeted that “numbers don’t lie,” adding that repealing the legislation without a plan to replace it “would be financially devastating and morally irresponsible.”

“It’s not just about 400K MDers who will lose coverage if #ACA repealed w/o replacement. We all will have higher premiums and less coverage,” Cardin tweeted.

Hours after the budget office released its report, five members of the Maryland congressional delegation spoke about the importance of Obamacare at a town hall meeting in Clinton, Maryland.

In Maryland, the uninsured rate has fallen 42 percent since 2010 and 278,000 people in the state have gained coverage, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data.

Muller already is thinking about the ways in which the legislation’s repeal would change her life. Before Obama’s landmark healthcare law, she said, she paid a $500 premium every month and needed financial help from her parents to make it work. Her seizure migraines have made it difficult to find work.

Muller’s current insurance plan makes it possible to visit a neurologist and pain management doctor, and covers her trips to the emergency room and urgent care.

Last week, the Republican-controlled Congress voted to pass a budget resolution that signaled the first step toward repealing the law. Some GOP lawmakers have said they’ll announce their replacement plans in coming days, as House and Senate committees are preparing to write legislation rolling back large portions of the law.

Trump told The Washington Post last weekend that he was almost done with a plan to provide “insurance for everybody,” but The Post noted that he did not provide details or a timeline.

Confirmation hearings began Wednesday for Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, the Georgia Republican would play an integral role in shaping the administration’s policy on health care.

Price has introduced his own legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare four times.

As Muller awaits Trump’s inauguration, the uncertainty has her worried and the recent CBO report didn’t help.

“This is something that’s extremely important to a lot of people, including me,” she said. “People don’t realize how they’re going to be affected – and I think it will affect more than 18 million people.”

By TALIA RICHMAN

UM Shore Medical Center Staff Honored as Every Day Heroes

Fanita Bartoo recently donated to the University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation’s “Every Day Hero” Program to thank Christopher Watson, MD, Sharon Stagg, DNP, Mary Anne Luschinski, RN, CCRN, and Lisa Cook, RN for the excellent care they gave to her daughter when she was a patient in the ER, ICU, and Palliative Care.

EDH-1-12-17

Pictured: (L to R) Lakshmi Vaidyanathan, MD, Jennifer Miles, BSN, RN, Manager 2E, Christopher Watson, MD, MPH, Sharon Stagg, DNP, MPH, CRNP, Ms. FanitaBartoo, Mary Anne Luschinski, RN, CCRN, Lisa Cook, RN, Diane Walbridge, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Director of Acute Care and Emergency Services, Pamela Pardun, BSN, RN, CCRN, Manager ICU and Telemetry, F. Graham Lee, VP for Philanthropy.

The Everyday Hero program provides patients, visitors and staff members with the opportunity to recognize and thank any member or team at UM Shore Regional Health, who made a positive difference in a visit or stay, by making a financial contribution of any size to  the UM Memorial Hospital Foundation or the UM Chester River Health Foundation. Funds received through the Everyday Hero program are used for equipment, capital improvements and staff education for the departments in which the employees or team work.

About UM Shore Regional Health: As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.