Brown: Lack of Resources and Access Have Left Marylanders Vulnerable. We Can Fix That
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, released the following statement in support of new legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly creating Health Equity Resource Communities (HERC):
“The coronavirus pandemic has cast a stark reminder about the dramatic and unacceptable health disparities that still exist in this country. Black and Brown communities have seen a disproportionate number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from this virus. Years of neglect and lack of resources have left these populations vulnerable. We can fix that.
“During the O’Malley-Brown Administration, the Health Enterprise Zones Initiative showed the way forward. By recruiting primary care physicians and other health workers, and placing them in underserved communities we improved health care access and helped promote healthier lifestyles. The results speak for themselves. Maryland saw a decrease of more than 18,000 inpatient stays. The reduction in hospital admissions yielded a net health savings of over $108 million, far outweighing the $15 million it cost to implement the program.
“While Governor Hogan shortsightedly chose to end this successful initiative, I’m heartened to see Sen. Hayes and Del. Barron and Lewis efforts to revive this initiative through the Health Equity Resource Communities (HERC) program. Improving health outcomes requires the state to invest in our communities. We can save lives, improve public health and close persistent gaps that harm people of color, low-income neighborhoods and rural communities if we act urgently.”
Congressman Brown has introduced the Health Enterprise Zones Act, which would implement the successful Health Enterprise Zones initiative piloted in Maryland at the federal level. The bill creates incentives to attract health care practitioners to work in health-disadvantaged communities including; tax credits, grants, student loan repayment and higher reimbursement through Medicare.