Brown uses the Affordable Care Act not only to expand access to quality healthcare but also as an opportunity to address the health disparities that exist in Maryland.Â He says, “I was the architect of a program called l-health enterprise zones, modeled after economic development enterprise zones where in an economic development context you incentivize employers to create jobs in areas in your state or community where you have high unemployment. Well, the health enterprise zone context is similar. We incentivize primary care providers to deliver greater services in those communities that are underserved and that experience higher rates of chronic diseases and illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and asthma—and much of those disparities are found not only in low income communities, or African American communities, but also in our urban communities and rural communities.”
It’s commendable that the lieutenant governor sees that there is a geographic component to the state’s internal disparities, and that he is using the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity to address them. Brown ties that into our query earlier about what is next for Maryland.
“It’s addressing the disparities that exist not just in healthcare but also in education. We have some of the best schools in the nation K-12, but not every child is educated. Not every child gets access to a world class education. That’s why what’s next for Maryland is Universal Pre-K. I’ve made that proposal and I’ve already begun the work to expand Pre-K to all Maryland 4-year-olds by 2018. It’s also things like investing in career technology education recognizing that not every high school graduate is going to go to college or to an institution that awards a four-year degree. But every high school graduate needs a skill or something more than a high school diploma in order to compete in the workforce, and I think the answer is in career technology education. We used to call it voc-tech, but today we call it career technology education. Those are some of the things that are next in Maryland to address our health disparities and educational disparities, Â and that’s what’s next for Maryland.”
Brown has also made it a personal crusade to stamp out domestic violence. His cousin was killed in 2008 by her estranged boyfriend.
“Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. There’s no family regardless of race, religion, or culture, ethnicity or nationality that’s immune.” He tells us. “The good news is that we’ve been driving it down over the last six years. We’ve given judges the authority to order domestic abusers to surrender their firearms when they issue a protective order. We’ve also made it easier for victims of domestic violence to get a permanent protective order. We have the highest standard in the nation. We require clear and convincing evidence. Every other state, Â including the District of Columbia, had a preponderance of the evidence standard. This year we changed that, and I’m proud to have been able to work with some of the advocates in this field.”
He also touts the success the administration has had with the gaming industry and its transparency.
“When we passed the gaming legislation in Maryland they expanded gaming to include both slot machines and table games. We set up a formula by which we can be held accountable. Maryland receives one of the highest percentages of the revenues generated from gaming than any other state. New Jersey and Las Vegas get 7% of the revenues that go into the state coffers. We are above 60%, and of that the lion’s share goes to education.”
He adds that a certain percentage goes to the horse racing industry, something Maryland seems particularly proud of and what the lieutenant governor says is part of Maryland’s proud tradition. The industry is on the rebound in Maryland, creating more than 20,000 jobs.
Sounds like the man has big plans for the state. But will the public buy into them? We’ll find out in November.