Gene Ransom: Opioids Talking and Hope

The Maryland General Assembly is considering countless measures to attack the opioid crisis in Maryland.  Many are with merit and some need work. Two proposals stand out as comprehensive real solutions to the problem, and have the support of MedChi, The Maryland Medical Society, other public health groups and officials. Those proposals are the Start Talking Maryland Act and the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017. The Start Talking Maryland Act, introduced by Senate President Mike Miller and Delegate Eric Bromwell (SB 1060/HB 1082) recognizes the critical importance of expanding public outreach, education, and intervention as a component of the State’s response to the increasing incidences of substance misuse, addiction, and overdose.  The legislation appropriately identifies drug courts, public schools, and institutions of higher education as essential components of a comprehensive strategy to increase public awareness of the growing epidemic.  The Act also seeks to ensure... Continue reading
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Carl Szabo: Merriweather Memories: Why I support a Ticket Rights Resale Act in MD

I have many fond memories of growing up in my hometown of Columbia MD – several of them are of the times I had with friends and family at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I remember using the money I earned from delivering the Columbia Flyer to buy tickets to its concerts. I remember my Wilde Lake High School wrestling team providing security for its events. I remember seeing the Symphony of Lights and my high school graduation ceremony at Merriweather.    To me, these types of experiences are the cornerstone of so many positive memories, which is why I am saddened that companies like Ticketmaster are increasingly using ticket restrictions and inconveniencing fans.  Growing up, if I couldn’t make it to a concert, I would simply hand my tickets to a friend or sell them to a neighbor.  Recently, companies like Ticketmaster have begun to restrict what I can and can’t... Continue reading
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Dr. Leana Wen: Six reasons to fight the ACA replacement plan

For months, I have received questions from concerned residents about how repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would impact their health. My patients were worried about whether they could still get medications to treat their heart disease and diabetes, whether they would they lose coverage for mental health and addiction services, and whether they would continue to get basic preventive services such as mammogram, pap smears and blood pressure screenings. This week, House Republicans issued their proposed replacement. There are six particularly concerning provisions with drastic consequences to Baltimore's health:First, the bill punishes those with lower wages by eliminating subsidies to help pay for insurance coverage based on a person's income. As a physician who has practiced medicine before and after the ACA, I have seen patients forced to make the impossible choice between basic needs, including food and housing, and critical medications. I have seen patients forgo paying for insurance coverage because... Continue reading
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Chris VanDeHoef: Protecting Maryland Consumers from Restrictive Ticketing Practices

When MGM opened a new performance venue at National Harbor in December, Maryland residents gained another opportunity to enjoy internationally-renowned artists and entertainment productions. But sometimes this excitement comes with costs and risks, and there is growing concern that the live entertainment industry is quietly imposing anti-consumer burdens that can surprise Marylanders and cost us hundreds of dollars.  It is a regular practice for concerts and sporting events to sell tickets many months before the big event. Fans set up their laptops and smartphones and try to beat the scalpers to get tickets, and if the stars are aligned and moon is bright then we score great seats to a fantastic event that in a few months we will enjoy with good friends and thousands of other fans.  But what happens if a business trip gets scheduled or family life interrupts, or someone loses a job and really can’t afford a... Continue reading
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Dr. Leana Wen: Remove red tape to save lives

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage Maryland, killing more residents every year than traffic accidents. We are in the midst of a public health emergency. Across the state, nearly 1500 people lost their lives to drug or alcohol overdose in the first nine months of 2016. The powerful opioid known as fentanyl is driving these high rates; in Baltimore City, fatal overdoses involving the drug have increased 20 times in the least three years. These deaths are especially tragic because there is one medication — naloxone — that is a complete antidote to an opioid overdose. As an emergency physician, I have used the medication hundreds of times and have seen firsthand that it can bring someone on the verge of death back to life in seconds. Naloxone is safe, with virtually no side effects if given to someone who is not on opioids. It is easy to administer, with two versions, one that’s... Continue reading
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