First of all, don’t forget to vote today if you haven’t already.
The mid-term elections have finally arrived, after a long, mud-slinging fall of campaigning. One interesting race has been between incumbent Democratic Representative of the 1st District of Maryland, Frank Kratovil, and his challenger, Andy Harris, a Republican state senator. This has been one of the most expensive congressional campaigns in Maryland’s history, with total spending estimated around $8 million dollars. And after all of that money, the race remains a toss-up, leaning toward Harris, part of the national trend toward the right (although Kratovil is considered a conservative Democrat).
The contest that most people are watching is the Governor’s race, although it’s better described as a re-match. Bob Ehrlich, the Republican challenger, was the Governor of Maryland from 2002 to 2006, until Martin O’Malley, the sitting Democratic Governor, won the seat in 2006 after eight years as the Mayor of Baltimore. So this year they face each other once again to convince Maryland that each is the man for the job.
The overarching themes of the campaign have been how better to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in the state, since Maryland, like everywhere else, has experienced a rise in unemployment, economic decline, and state budget issues that led O’Malley to raise the sales tax from 5% to 6% and furlough state workers last year. The state has a balanced projected budget and 7.6% unemployment, 1.6 percentage points below the national average.
Another theme of many of this year’s midterms, and one of great interest to nursing students, is the candidates’ approach to healthcare. The reform bill has brought healthcare to the center of political debate and ideology, and as changes from the federal bill continue to roll out, state governments will have a large role in overseeing their implementation. So let’s see what these two candidates are highlighting as their priorities for healthcare in Maryland:
Ehrlich’s campaign website emphasizes services for the most vulnerable, infant mortality, childhood obesity, providing healthcare to uninsured children, electronic medical records, allowing Marylanders to buy health insurance out of state, and medical malpractice reform.
O’Malley’s campaign materials emphasize access to care, healthcare for small businesses, prescription drugs for seniors, reducing fraud, electronic health records, dental care for all children, infant mortality, healthcare for veterans and substance abuse services. O’Malley also has a separate page on his website regarding Marylanders with disabilities.
For more information, you can visit their websites:
And finally, here’s a link to an excellent video explaining the basics of federal healthcare reform to healthcare consumers (that’s all of us!) from the Kaiser Family Foundation: Health Reform from KFF