Our Vision and Mission

Consumer Health First envisions a nation where every resident has access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care.

To achieve our vision Consumer Health First seeks solutions and advances reforms that promote health equity through access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care for all Marylanders.

The Problem

Maryland's implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2014 has meant that hundreds of thousands of our state's residents were able to acquire insurance coverage and the health care services they need. However, disparities in access persisted, particularly for those who did not qualify for coverage or were unable to afford it. These issues have been exacerbated by efforts on both the legislative and regulatory front to undermine the advance we have made - even as new challenges continue to arise. They include proposals to transform vital safety net programs such as Medicaid and to postpone funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program community health centers. At the same time, Maryland is moving forward with new models for our health care delivery system.  To be successful in all of these initiatives will require that consumers be both informed and engaged in their own care and in the design of these new systems.  

The Solution

Consumer Health First has identified two broad strategies to advance health equity within the construct of Maryland's current reform efforts.  To foster a culture of health in our state that is driven by:

  • Health care aware consumers, who have the information and resources they need to be engaged in their own health care as well as the health care of their communities.
  • Policy experts and consumer advocates, who are actively engaged in all levels of the design and implementation of health care reform initiatives.

 To support these efforts Consumer Health First is committed to: (1) developing legislative and policy proposals that ensure that all Marylanders have access to high-quality, comprehensive and affordable health care: (2) providing information, tools and resources for consumers, legislators, decision-makers, and others that are based on consumer-centric models that advance health equity.

Our Principles

Consumer Health First believes that access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality health care should be a basic human right. We support healthcare improvement strategies based on the following principles. Health care in Maryland will be:

Universal – Everyone residing in Maryland has health care coverage.

Comprehensive –– Health care includes a wide range of effective physical, behavioral, and oral health services in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings and from a variety of providers. Health care services include wellness, preventive, primary, acute, chronic, and long-term care provided over each individual's lifespan. All prescription drugs are covered.

Affordable – Costs of care do not prevent anyone from seeking and getting care. Premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing are on a sliding scale according to income, and financial aid is available to low income individuals and families as needed. No one is forced into bankruptcy or becomes impoverished because of personal health care costs.

Accessible – Health care services are available to consumers in a variety of settings in every community, from urban specialty hospitals to rural health centers, from doctors' offices to school-based clinics, from long-term care and hospice to the home. No one has to travel long distances in order to receive appropriate and timely care.

High Quality – Health care services meet the highest medical standards for everyone. No one receives a lower standard of care due to income, race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, employment, immigration status, disability, pre-existing condition, geographic location, or any other reason.

Coordinated – Each individual who enters the health system is assured that services and treatments are coordinated among all providers over the continuum of care for the benefit of the patient and that care received remains coordinated over the lifespan of each individual.

Patient-Centered – A transparent, patient-centered model of care means that individuals:

  • are educated about their care and actively engaged in the management of their own health;
  • receive meaningful care coordination, beginning with primary care; and
  • are at the hub of a collaborative care delivery process. 

With this model, everyone receives health care services that are comfortable, reassuring, efficient, and consistent with the highest standards to optimize their individual health in accordance with their personal goals. 

Culturally Respectful – Our diverse population requires that health care meet the needs of people with differing health traditions, who speak languages other than English, and whose health needs reflect their lifelong experiences. Each individual who enters the health system is treated with the same high level of regard and caring.

Fiscally Sustainable – Fiscally sound strategies for financing a universal system are based on the creative use of multiple public and private resources. These include state and federal revenues, business and payroll taxes, enrollee contributions, tobacco and alcohol taxes, and other dedicated revenue streams as needed. Savings and efficiencies are achieved from some of the following:

  • Maximizing the use of health information technology
  • Eliminating unnecessary paperwork
  • Reducing administrative costs
  • Delivering preventive care to reduce long-term costs
  • Controlling profit margins for the private health insurance market
  • Reducing prices through government negotiations with drug companies
  • Reducing inappropriate use of emergency rooms and other costly services
  • Reducing waste and duplication through improved tracking of services