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Friday, January 20, 2012

O'Malley: Why Maryland Loves Its Gov

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Health Action 2012 got off to a great start with a star-studded opening plenary that included HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, health policy expert Stuart Altman, and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Donna Edwards (D-MD). As if that wasn't enough excitement, we were lucky enough to be visited by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley for lunch.

Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative President and tireless health care advocate Vinny Demarco gave a lively introduction for Governor O'Malley. From his remarks, it's clear Governor O'Malley is quite popular among Marylanders—as Vinny said, "We love our Gov!" And from Maryland's low unemployment rate and expansion of health coverage to thousands of children and adults—it's easy to see why.

Governor O'Malley and his administration have made health care and expanding access to the citizens of Maryland a top priority. Despite having inherited a massive debt from the previous administration, Gov. O'Malley refused to take the easy way out by slashing Medicaid andleaving thousands of low-income Marylanders without health care. He worked with his legislature and took a balanced approach, making cuts where possible and bringing in revenues as well. As a result, they were able to cut $7.5 billion from the state budget while expandingcoverage to almost 400,000 Marylanders.

Why has Gov. O'Malley made expanding coverage a top priority? It's simple; he realizes an investment in health care is an investment in the people of Maryland. A healthy workforce is a strong workforce. So health care helps to create jobs—helping the economy in turn.

Gov. O'Malley has applied this same drive to implementing the Affordable Care Act in his state. He knows being an early implementer of the health care law will not only benefit Marylanders and has taken great strides to make sure Maryland is ahead of the curve.

I hope other Governors are watching Maryland and taking notice.