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Health Care & Public Health

Tom will work tirelessly to ensure every Marylander has access to quality, affordable health care.

Our country and our state are suffering from overlapping health crises.

From COVID-19, to addiction and mental health challenges, Marylanders are suffering from lack of leadership at the state level. Tom has what it takes to provide this sustained executive leadership to coordinate the efforts of the health department, local governments, and health care practitioners and restore the public health of Marylanders from across the state. Tom previously served as Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, ensuring all Americans had the right to seek and receive care that was affordable and accessible. He has a proven track record of fighting for health care coverage for all Marylanders, regardless of income, zip code, disability, or immigration status. And he is ready to fight to protect a woman’s right to make health decisions about her own body in Maryland. As Governor, Tom will continue this fight for reproductive rights, health care for all, and health equity across the state of Maryland.

Affordable, Accessible Health Care for all Marylanders

Two decades ago, infectious disease experts warned that our country was uniquely vulnerable to epidemics because, unlike every other affluent nation, the United States has millions of residents without health insurance. Many who lack health coverage cannot afford to seek medical attention, even if they feel sick. A highly contagious virus “left undetected” because a person chose to forego care could “spread to family, neighbors, and other contacts,” making health insurance gaps “a risk to the nation’s health.”

These warnings came tragically true last year when the deadliest pandemic in more than a century hit. Based on peer-reviewed research, the non-partisan consumer group Families USA linked 25% of Maryland’s COVID-19 deaths to our state’s failure to guarantee everyone health coverage.

Regrettably, the glaring health disparities that have long existed but became so evident during the pandemic led to significantly more sickness and death in communities of color – not only because those disparities left people of color more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID, but also because people of color are more likely to lack the coverage they need to seek care. All of us need affordable health care that can never be taken away – but for some of us, that goal is particularly distant.

Maryland has done better than many other states. We cover 94 percent of our residents – that’s above the national average and far more than before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. But Tom knows that 94 percent isn’t good enough anymore. It leaves more than 347,000 people without coverage. With so many lives needlessly lost to the pandemic, we can longer afford gaps in access to essential health care. Our goal must be 100 percent.

Tom wants to automate and streamline enrollment into coverage whenever possible. Maryland took important steps in this direction by creating the nation’s first Easy Enrollment program that lets people sign up for health care when they file state tax returns or claim unemployment benefits, but we can take this effort to the next level. More than 230,000 Maryland residents without health insurance – almost 70 percent of our state’s uninsured – now qualify for Medicaid or federal help buying private health insurance. It’s time to sign them up.

We must also address the glaring health disparities which impact communities of color in our state. The Maryland General Assembly created a new Health Equity Resource Communities program to improve health care in disadvantaged communities, and Tom is committed to fully implementing and strengthening this program.

Maryland should also join the handful of other states that guarantee health care to hard-working immigrants, regardless of their status. During the pandemic, these front-line workers have cared for our sick, grown and prepared our food, and delivered goods to our doors. They are taxpayers, and they contribute to social security with every paycheck, just like the rest of us. Woven into the fabric of our community, our undocumented friends and neighbors should never be turned away when they get sick and need help.  Denying them health care is not only wrong – it is foolish. If someone avoids the doctor because they can't get health insurance, we pay far more when they turn to the hospital emergency room, where the unaffordable costs get passed to the rest of us.

Tom and Shannon will do this by:

Mental and Behavioral Health

Nearly 800,000 Marylanders have a mental health condition, and our youth have disproportionately experienced a rise in untreated mental health conditions in the wake of the pandemic. Half of teenagers experiencing depression have not received the mental health care they need in the last year. Many of those experiencing mental health challenges are diverted into our criminal justice system instead of getting the help they need. Tom and Shannon have spent their careers fighting for health care and justice, and as a Baltimore City Councilwoman, Shannon fought to reduce the number of people with mental illness in our jails. A Perez-Sneed Administration will utilize a trauma-informed and restorative approach to expanding and improving mental health care by:

Women’s Health

With the recent attack on women's right to choose from the Supreme Court, we know now more than ever that defending women’s health care rights will depend on state leadership. Tom has the experience, skills, and drive to provide this leadership and ensure all women have full access to the care they need. As Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Tom reinforced federal laws that protect women’s access to reproductive care without harassment or intimidation. During his time serving on the Montgomery County Council, Tom fought to provide access to health care for all pregnant women, regardless of immigration status. As the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Tom and Shannon will continue the fight to fiercely protect reproductive freedoms, remove barriers to care, and derail any effort to undermine access to abortion. This means:

Addiction and Overdose

In 2020, Maryland suffered its most devastating year on record when nearly 3,000 lives were lost to drug and alcohol overdoses, with one-third of these fatalities occurring in Baltimore City. This devastating number marks over a 300% increase over the past 10 years, due in part to the rampant increase in Fentanyl in the drug supply across our country and across our state. Marylanders are suffering and overdoses have spiked during the pandemic as economic stress, unemployment, and weakened social connections have increased. Many of these deaths of despair are avoidable, and it’s time we provide evidence-based treatments and harm-reduction services for those in need. Tom will work to ensure Marylanders receive the addiction care they need by:

Healthcare Workforce

Long before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, our state was suffering from a shortage of health professionals. Now, between the long hours, challenging working conditions, and unprecedented burnout, the healthcare worker shortage poses a crisis of its own. Earlier this year, the Maryland Hospital Association reported nearly 4,000 vacancies. This means that we are woefully unprepared to care for our aging population, address the COVID-19 pandemic, and address the health needs of everyday Marylanders. As Governor, I will strengthen our healthcare workforce by recruiting new professionals, retaining our existing healthcare workforce, and ensuring that these essential workers have fair pay and sustainable working conditions. This means:

COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our state and exacerbated many of the social problems we already faced. We must be prepared to fight the next variant and the next pandemic when, not if, it arrives to ensure that our state, our health care system, and our communities do not have to relive the destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom will combat COVID-19 and prepare our state for the next pandemic by:

Prescription Drug Affordability

Currently, 1 in 4 Americans can’t afford their prescription drugs. Life-saving prescription drugs don’t work if they are financially out of reach. Throughout his career, Tom has worked to drive down health care expenses by tackling the rising cost of prescription drugs. In 2004, while serving on the Montgomery County Council, Tom worked to secure affordable prescription drugs for county residents by implementing a prescription drug discount card. In that same year, the council invested $300,000 in a community pharmacy that served the estimated 80,000 residents without health insurance. As governor, Tom will continue to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for all Marylanders by: