A President's Message

                                             PRESCRIPTION DRUG FIGHT TIMELINE OF EVENTS

 

 

         I have always kept party affiliation out of this fight to reinstate our RX drug coverage. I don't mention it on the Facebook page or on this site, but since I have received a few emails (I said a few not many) who are opposed to my support for Delegate Dan Cox’s run for Governor, I feel this must be addressed.  

         The emails said they would not support Delegate Cox because he is a Republican and Pro-Trump. Well, I am looking at the man – not the Party and Delegate Dan Cox has shown his true colors over the years.  He is one of our Fantastic Four (one of only four lawmakers who voted against SB 946) as well as proposed legislation in 2019 to reinstate prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly (65 or older) State Retirees.  Not only has this man talked the talk - he has walked the walk. 

​            When we began fighting to keep this issue relevant in the Legislature, we have found that there is little support from most of the duly elected members of the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate. And we found that out the hard way!  So that is why his support over the years has been beneficial to State retirees and most welcome.  I quickly put together a brief timeline earlier this week.  Now that I have had time let me tell you about some facts by going over the timeline and Delegate Cox's support of this issue. 

​2011

​   Fact One.     In 2011, the Democrat controlled Maryland General Assembly eliminated Prescription Drug Coverage for Disabled and Elderly (65 or older) State Retirees through passage of the 2011 Budget & Reconciliation Act.   The law would was not scheduled to take effect until fiscal year 2020 (July 2019). 

​   Fact Two.    Thirty-Seven (37) Democrats in the Maryland State Senate voted to eliminate prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly State Retirees in the 2011 Act.    Ten (10) Republicans voted against its elimination.    See 2011 Maryland Senate Record.    

   Fact Three.   Ninety-seven (97) Democrats in the Maryland House of Delegates voted to eliminate prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly State Retirees in the 2011 Act.  Forty-one (41) Republicans voted against its elimination.  See 2011 Maryland House of Delegates Record.

​   Fact Four.     Democrat Governor Martin O'Malley proposed to eliminate prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly retirees in January of 2011.  See O’Malley’s Proposed Budget Cuts.  Democrat Governor O'Malley signed the elimination of prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly State retirees into law.

2018

​   Fact Five.     In 2018 the Democrat controlled Maryland General Assembly voted to pass SB 187 changing the July 2019 enactment of the Legislation to eliminate the prescription drug coverage to January 2019.  

​   Fact Six.       One Hundred and Forty-Four (144) Democrats in the Maryland House of Delegates voted to speed up the elimination so that disabled and elderly retirees would be removed from the State prescription drug program by January 2019.   Thirty-eight (38) Republicans voted No.  See Maryland House Record.  

   

   Fact Seven.    Every Senator (47), Democrat & Republican voted to speed up the elimination of prescription drug coverage for disabled and elderly State Retirees. See Maryland Senate Record.

​   Fact Eight.    In May of 2018, Department of Budget and Management ("DBM") run by Democrat Secretary David Brinkley (who in 2011 voted to eliminate prescription drug coverage) sent a letter to all disabled and elderly State retirees telling them that their prescription drug coverage was eliminated and that these specific State Retirees would have to choose a Medicare Part D program to take care of their prescription coverage.  Disabled and elderly retirees were required to choose a Part D program between October 15 and December 31st.  

​   Fact Nine.     In June of 2018, I received the DBM letter. ​

   Fact Ten.      In July of 2018, Republican Delegate Neil Parrott, galvanized State Retirees in his area to rally on behalf of the disabled and elderly state retirees in Maryland.  See Neil Parrot Rally. 

​   Fact Eleven.   In July of 2018 I sent four letters to 188 Delegates and Senators (including the Governor)  asking for a special session.  That’s 752 letters in the month of July.  In addition I attended lawmaker’s meetings around the state (and there were many since 2018 was an election year). Each time I was told that reinstatement of our prescription drug coverage would be taken care of in the upcoming 2019 Session. 

   Fact Twelve.   In August of 2018,  I met with Democrat Senator Kathy Klausmeier and Democrat Delegate Eric Bromwell with members of the RX Drug Coverage Group. Both indicated they would sponsor a bill to reinstate the State Retiree benefit in the 2019 Session.

​    Fact Thirteen.   In August of 2018,  I had a teleconference with Republican Governor Larry Hogan's Chief of Staff Matthew Clark and Amelia Chasse, Director of Communications.   They stated that the Governor did not support reinstatement or a special session.  The Governor supported a one-time payment of $1500.00 for that year and then all State Retirees would be moved to Medicare Part D.  I told them they were leaving me no option – that I had to sue.    I hired Deb Hill to begin legal action. 

​   Fact Fourteen.    In September of 2018 the case of Fitch v. Maryland was filed.  The Complaint asked for a Declaratory Judgment and an injunction to stop enforcement of the 2011 law. 

​   Fact Fifteen.       On October 10, 2018, the Court entered an injunction staying all action of the State to remove State Retirees from the prescription drug coverage while the case was pending.   

​2019

​   Fact Sixteen.      In January 2019 Democrat Delegate Melody Griffith submitted SB 946, a bill that required disabled and elderly State retirees to pay ALL out-of-pocket costs for their prescription drug coverage.

   Fact Seventeen.   In 2019 Republican Delegate Cox sponsored HB 1033 to reinstate prescription drug benefits and it was allowed to die in House Appropriations Committee chaired by Democrat Delegate Maggie McIntosh.

​   Fact Eighteen.     In 2019 Democrat Delegate Eric Bromwell’s  sponsored HB 98 to reinstate RX Drug Coverage went to the House Appropriations committee. Democrat Eric Bromwell pulled it the morning of the hearing (I know I was sitting in the House chambers waiting to testify when his office called me.) He voted for SB946.

   Fact Nineteen.      In 2019, Democrat Senator Kathy Klausmeier also submitted SB 193 to reinstate our RX Drug Coverage.  That bill went to the Senate Budget & Taxations Committee. Guess what? She pulled that bill the night before the hearing. She voted for SB 946.

   Fact Twenty.        In 2019, Republican Delegate Neil Parrot submitted  HB 979 to reinstate our RX Drug Coverage. The bill had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee, but never went any further due to the influence of Democrat Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He voted for SB 946.     

​  Fact Twenty-One.  Out of the 188 Delegates and Senators in the Maryland General Assembly only

                                  1.   Republican Delegate Dan Cox, (Frederick County);

                                  2.   Republican Lauren Delegate Arikan (Baltimore & Harford County);

                                  3.   Republican Delegate (now Senator) Paul Corderman (Washington County); and

                                  4.   Republican Delegate Johnny Mautz (Caroline, Dorchester & Wicomico County)

voted AGAINST SB 946.  These lawmakers stood up in solidarity with us and said this is not what disabled and elderly State Retirees worked for – this was not the program that was promised. They are our Fantastic Four.   They wanted prescription drug coverage restored.   Only Four Delegates – and not one was a Democrat.  

Please note that SB 946 was passed by the Democratic controlled General Assembly after the Court ordered injunction.

2020

​    Fact Twenty-Two.   In 2019, Republican Delegate Joe Boteler voted for SB 946 however, after speaking with and hearing from State Retirees at the United We Matter Annual Meeting (October 2019) he submitted HB 1230 in the 2020 Legislative Session to reinstate our prescription drug coverage. Due to Covid-19, it was never heard in the House Appropriations Committee in 2020 and the Chair of the Committee, Democrat Delegate Maggie McIntosh would not call it for vote in 2021.

​2021

​   Fact Twenty-Three.    In 2021, at my urging, Democrat Delegate Carl Jackson submitted a HB 1335 (a bill that was prepared by me and I sent to every lawmaker ) to reinstate our RX Drug Coverage (because it was late it went to the House Rules Committee). Well guess what? He pulled his bill with no notice.

​   Fact Twenty-Four.   In 2021, on the last day of session, Republican Delegate Kathy Szeliga submitted an amendment to SB 606 asking that reinstatement of prescription drug coverage be passed.   See Last Day of Session.  This effort was blocked by the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Democrat Delegate Maggie McIntosh and the Amendment was withdrawn.

   Fact Twenty-Five.   In 2021 Democrat Delegate Adrienne Jones and Democrat Senator Bill Ferguson will not meet to discuss reinstatement. Democrat Delegate Brooke Lierman told us in 2019 that establishing Kirwan was more important than keeping a promise to elderly and disabled State Retirees.

​            Do you see a pattern here? These are facts which I have never used on this page or in our fight to get our prescription drug coverage reinstated. I always said that this fight affected all of us regardless of party affiliation. Over the years I wondered who would stand up and be counted on this issue – regardless of their party.  Well Delegate Dan Cox has.   If Delegate Dan Cox were a Democrat and supported this fight they way he has done. - I would do the same thing and urge everyone to support him - nothing would change. So, I say to everyone who has a problem with his party affiliation, please send me the name of any Democrat running for office in 2022 who will support reinstatement on the campaign trail and not pull it in the last couple weeks of session.  ​

​           Time to take off the blinders because just reviewing these facts it seems like the opponents to prescription drug reinstatement is the Democrat party of the State of Maryland. Again, I only bring this up because I have received emails that say that they will not support Cox for Governor because he is a Republican.  Well, if you have those thoughts then I have only one question – What is more important, Reinstatement or Party? Because for three years it has become abundantly clear that the current Democrats in office do not support reinstatement. By extension – they do not support disabled or elderly State Retirees.  Therefore – they do not support you.   If you believe that our coverage needs to be reinstated, then it is time to remove and replace those persons who do not agree that your life and medical needs matter.  It’s that simple.

​          If you have decided that Party is more important than your life, please have enough respect for the fighters of this cause to remove yourself (and your comments) from our page and from this fight because though you are entitled to your own opinion – you are not entitled to your own facts.  Facts don’t lie.  The Democratic controlled Maryland General Assembly do not want to reinstate your prescription drug coverage and have used the last three years to tell you that.  Are you listening?

         I am fighting to get State retirees prescription drug benefits reinstated – and am asking for your help on behalf of the thousands of disabled and elderly State retirees who could care less what party reinstates the coverage that they were promised.  They just want it reinstated and so do I. Dan Cox, a man of character,  has fought and will continue to fight for our cause.  Can we do any less?

Ken Fitch

President

United We Matter.                                                                                                                                          07/09/2021

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