In The News
The Coronavirus Aid Package passed by Congress this week is now a law. President Donald Trump signed the $8.3 billion measure on Friday, providing public health agencies with much-needed resource. Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes, who serves on the House Subcommittee on Health, discusses the new law.
Maryland’s greatest natural resource is getting attention in Congress. The Chesapeake Bay Funding Reauthorization Act provides $90.5 million a year for five years…. U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Baltimore) is a key supporter in continuing that funding. “Last year, in terms of the bay program, we actually protected ourselves and the bay against the draconian mindless cuts that were coming in the president’s budget.” Rep. Sarbanes said. The bill proposes funding to restore clean water, protect drinking water, preserve fish and wildlife habitat and reduce flooding. Six states and the District are included in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, 64,000 square miles and 18 million people, including Maryland and Virginia. “We can make a very powerful case to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that they gotta step up.” Rep. Sarbanes said. “If they truly want to protect clean water and do the right thing for the environment, make sure that the Chesapeake Bay is healthy they should do that in a bipartisan fashion.” The bill has passed the U.S. House, and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin is leading the effort in the Senate.
"One of the things the opioid epidemic has laid bare is the lack of trained professionals we have to provide treatment, so we can put out all the funding dollars we want" but it won't do any good without a trained workforce, said Michael Botticelli, executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center…. Botticelli was discussing H.R. 3414, the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, one of 14 bills the subcommittee was considering at a hearing on Tuesday. The act, sponsored by Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.) and cosponsored by subcommittee members Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), would add 1,000 residency positions in addiction or pain medicine programs over a 5-year period; the positions would be eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare…. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) also spoke up for the bill. "Many places across the country are facing shortages of these kinds of professionals," he said. "In addition to affordability, provider capacity is clearly a barrier to treatment."
Recent reporting underscores the alarming vulnerabilities that exist in voting systems across the country (“Voting Machines Face New Criticism,” Feb. 24). As the 2020 election rapidly approaches, we must act urgently to protect our elections and guard against foreign interference. In Congress, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives has made election security a top priority. As our first order of business, we passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, the most sweeping anti-corruption bill in a generation which included significant election security reforms and resources. Soon after, we passed H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, a comprehensive effort to modernize election systems in every state by increasing the adoption of paper ballots and ensuring the accuracy of vote tallies. We also passed H.R. 4617, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, a bipartisan bill to counter foreign interference in our democracy. For months, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have refused to allow a vote on any of these critical election security bills. Despite swearing a sacred oath to defend the Constitution and protect our country from foreign attack, Senate Republicans are missing in action. The American people, not some foreign country, should decide American elections. Republicans must work together with Democrats to keep our country safe. We have no time to waste.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski joined a panel of lawmakers and Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board members at Oak Crest Senior Living Community on Feb. 18 to hear from the public about the burden of paying for their prescription medications. U.S. Representative John Sarbanes, D-3, AARP representative Jim Gutman, Maryland’s Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco and Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board member Dr. Ebere Onukwugha, along with Olszewski, led the second public forum in a series of events around the state…. Sarbanes said he knows that the issue of prescription drug costs is something that makes so many families in America feel powerless. “The most compelling and heart-wrenching stories that we get has to do with the impact of the high cost of prescription drugs. One out of every three Americans are not taking their prescriptions as prescribed because they’re trying to make them last longer because of the cost. That’s not right,” Sarbanes said…. Before the attendees began discussing their concerns, Sarbanes explained a couple things he and others are trying to do in Washington D.C., which include H.R. 3, the “Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act,” named after the late Baltimore City politician. “He was a champion on this issue, which would allow the federal government through the Medicare program to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies. It would put a cap on out-of-pocket expenses for seniors, which would alleviate a lot of the burden of the cost of these drugs,” Sarbanes said.
One of the most glaring examples of disenfranchisement can be found in our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia, where residents have been denied voting rights and full self-government for 219 years…. In 2019, the fight for D.C. statehood continued as House Democrats moved swiftly to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act – a comprehensive anti-corruption and clean elections bill that would protect the right to vote, strengthen ethics laws, and reduce the corrosive influence of big money in politics. Importantly, H.R. 1 declared that District residents deserved the full citizenship rights that only statehood could provide. The bill’s passage in the House marked the first time in history that a chamber of Congress had endorsed D.C. statehood…. The founding ideals of this nation demand D.C. statehood. The proud American declaration that our government is of, by and for the people must no longer be marred by an asterisk. All must be included. Last week, with committee passage of the D.C. statehood bill, Congress will take a major step forward in achieving that goal.
As the vaping crisis grows, it is incumbent upon state and federal officials to work together to stem the rise in youth vaping and prevent another generation of Americans from getting hooked on nicotine. This important effort begins by stopping Big Tobacco from continuing to sell fruit-flavored and candy-flavored e-cigarette products, which are increasingly popular among teenagers and adolescents. Sadly, after initially announcing that his administration would prohibit most forms of flavored vaping products, President Trump caved to a sustained pressure campaign from Big Tobacco and only instituted a partial ban. To fill the void left by the Trump administration’s failure, it is now up to states across the country and leaders in Congress to get the job done. Once again, Maryland can lead the way. During this legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly has an opportunity to follow through on what the Trump Administration failed to do – ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A bill led by Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County would prevent Big Tobacco from continuing to target Maryland teenagers with fruit- and candy- flavored products. A companion bill in the Maryland Senate also enjoys strong support. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act (H.R. 2339), a bill that would ban flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, and would raise the purchasing age for tobacco to 21.
Oak Crest was proud to serve as the Baltimore County host for the Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Board (MPDA) listening session on the evening of February 18. More than 75 residents welcomed the opportunity to attend the forum and provide input on the cost of prescription drugs and related issues. The panelists for the event were Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, MPDA Board Member Ebere Onukwugha, Maryland AARP Advocate Jim Gutman and Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco. Congressman John Sarbanes, whose district includes Oak Crest, attended the forum and provided remarks.
Lawmakers are growing increasingly alarmed about hacking dangers targeting the 2020 Census after a watchdog detailed dozens of high-risk cybersecurity problems that should have been fixed a long time ago…. And the count is sure to be a prime target for U.S. adversaries looking to sow chaos and to raise doubts about national institutions. “If ever there was a juicy target for those who want to hack in and cause mischief and sow discord and all the rest of it, it would be our 10-year census,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said. The census has been on the GAO’s list of the highest-risk government projects since 2017 because of cybersecurity and other issues, including concerns the Census Bureau won’t be able to hire enough workers to gather data from communities across the nation.