Archives for : December2014

A Worthwhile Tax

Although concerned advocates across the state are doing great work, to expand access to quality, affordable health care, with the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care for short, there are still significant numbers of Marylanders who will fall through the cracks.  Through no fault of their own, they will make too much money to qualify for some programs, but still not earn enough to be able to go out and buy an affordable policy, to cover themselves and their families.  As advocates, this is unacceptable.  We can, must, and will do better.

One of the best ways to eliminate this insurance gap is to continue good, proven public health policy that we know works.  By increasing the state tobacco tax by one dollar a pack, we can prevent our youth from starting to smoke, provide incentive for adult smokers to really give quitting a go, and provide significant amounts of revenue to help our fellow citizens with something they so desperately want and need – health care coverage so they have peace of mind.  Tobacco taxes are win-win policy.  People stop (or don’t begin) smoking, revenues are raised, and we save massive amounts of health care costs for all of us.

If we can reduce smoking rates and decrease the rolls of the uninsured, we are not only do the right thing morally, we are also making a financial decision that effects the entire population, smoker or not.  One might say that if you increase the tax and people stop smoking, then you will see a dramatic decrease in the revenue obtained.  Correct, and exactly what we want!  We want fewer people to die from awful tobacco related illnesses, to reduce the numbers of uninsured and thereby reduce the amount of uncompensated care, and at the same time have Marylanders lead healthier and happier lives!

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Matt Celentano is the Assistant Director Of Maryland Health Care for All