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.
Maryland's implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has meant that hundreds of thousands of our state's residents now have insurance coverage. However, disparities in access to coverage and care remain. For example, many of the newly insured don't yet fully understand how to traverse the health care system to get the care they need. And, tens of thousands of Marylanders still remain without insurance and still more do not qualify for coverage under the ACA. For others, health insurance and/or health care services continue to remain unaffordable. If we are to advance the goal of health equity in Maryland these issues must be addressed. At the same time, Maryland is moving forward with new models that can improve care coordination and health outcomes even as they transform our health care delivery and payment systems. All of these are complex and challenging issues and they will not succeed without a commitment to ensure that consumers are central to the solutions.
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.
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