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October 13, 2006

Ehrlich Running Mate Addresses Health Care in Maryland

Christine CoxKristen Cox, the running mate of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, told an audience at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that the Republican gubernatorial candidate is committed to providing insurance to Marylanders who lack health coverage, recruiting and retaining skilled health care workers and supporting innovative research.

Cox, secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities—an office created by Ehrlich—made an October 12 appearance at the School to discuss the administration’s positions on health care. She told the audience of about 120 that since taking office in 2002, the governor—who faces Democratic challenger and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley in the November 7 election—has demonstrated that health care is one of his top priorities.

According to Cox, the governor’s accomplishments over the past four years include:

More recently, Ehrlich implemented a program in partnership with local school systems to provide the flu vaccine to 250,000 children across the state. Cox described the initiative as “a practice run for pandemic flu.”

And in July the governor launched a Primary Adult Care health insurance program to cover 30,000 of the state’s uninsured. These individuals, who fall into a “gray area” of insurance coverage, are ineligible for Medicaid but receive no employer-paid health benefits. 

Cox said the administration is considering modifications to the age eligibility guidelines for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program to allow young people who fall into a “transitional” age group—ages 17 to 24—to buy into the program.    

Also at the top of Ehrlich’s health care agenda is the recruitment and retention of  health care employees. To that end, Cox said, the administration has developed a ten-year plan to attract nurses and nursing students to the state.

“It’s a long-term program we’ve committed to,” she said, adding that it will include tuition assistance as well as partnerships with Sallie Mae, a leading provider of student loans.  

Cox said other areas of primary concern for the governor include long-term care options for seniors, minority health disparities and medical malpractice insurance reform. —Jackie Powder

Kristen Cox’s appearance at the Bloomberg School is part of the Fall Policy Seminar Series, sponsored by the Department of Health, Policy and Management. Other seminar topics are: The Massachusetts Plan for Universal Health Coverage; Caring for an Aging Population; Computerization of Medical Records; and the Role of Lobbyists. For more information, contact Pamela Davis at 410-614-1580 or pdavis@jhsph.edu.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.