A Record of Success:
Strategic Health Policy and Consumer Advocacy: 2010 - 2018

Our Mission is to seek solutions and advance reforms that promote health equity through access to high-quality, comprehensive and affordable health care.

Consumer Health First (CHF) incorporated in 2016 as a 501(c)(3) after a decade of operations as the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform. Governed by a Board of Directors, CHF fulfills its mission by leading a consumer movement in partnership with individuals, state and national health policy and advocacy organizations, elected officials, policy makers at state agencies, insurance carriers , and many others.

In 2010, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, CHF launched its Health Care. Get It. campaign. The goal was to secure consumer-centric models for health care through legislation, regulation and policy that would assure all Marylanders of the health care that is their basic right. Since then hundreds of thousands of Marylanders have seen the impact of our work.

In 2016, CHF redesigned its campaign to Health Care. Keep It., to reflect the tectonic shift in the nation's capital. That means that we have spoken out on legislative proposals and regulatory changes designed to take away health care and ACA protections from millions of consumers. However, that hasn't stopped us from being the voice of consumers as Maryland undertakes to secure affordable and comprehensive coverage for its residents and implement a unique transformation of the health care delivery system.

To address that we have continued to build a strong consumer movement that raises the voices of Marylanders, and particularly those with no voice, to the decision- making process.

 In 2018, Consumer Health First spoke out on the:

  • Process to review insurance carriers' rates where we argued that the Maryland Insurance Administration should consider the: (1) impact of proposed increases on those in the private insurance market; (2) steps carriers were taking to better address the impact of high-needs individuals on the premiums for all recipients; and (3) the justification for high surpluses maintained by CareFirst, the state's largest carrier in the individual market.

  • Need to address the stabilization of the individual health insurance market by establishing a reinsurance program. Consumer Health First wrote in support of Maryland's 1332 Waiver application to the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which has resulted in the dramatic reduction of 2019 insurance premiums.

  • Importance of taking actions to provide longer-term stability of the market with affordable insurance premiums, particularly for those above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) who are not eligible for financial assistance.

  • Consumer-centric standards for the certification of insurance plans to ensure compliance by insurance carriers to network adequacy regulations.

  • Value of Maryland's Medicaid program for the 1 in 5 individuals it covers and the state's economy as a whole. For example, CHF launched a website for the Medicaid Supports Maryland campaign and created the Medicaid Collaborative, comprised of 20 organizations who are committed to maintaining a strong public health program for all those eligible for its services.

  • Transformation of Maryland's health care delivery system with its new Total Cost of Care and Primary Care Program models. With members on all of the state-sponsored workgroups, CHF has been a consistent and strong voice to ensure that these models are truly-patient centered and designed to drive equitable and high-quality care.

Collaborations and Outreach

CHF's health policy and consumer advocacy agenda provide a platform for our commitment to create the strong partnerships that undergird our success while also building the capacity of our fellow advocates. We achieve this through educational initiatives that include our resource-rich website and a weekly e-letter through which we share the most current information on health care-related actions and activities in Maryland and around the country. We also provide other educational opportunities such as our 2018 General Assembly wrap up webinar and the symposium - Quality and Affordability: Can We Have Both?, which was held in September.

Attendees at that event cited the importance and value of a strong consumer movement. For more than a decade, CHF has led that effort. Today it is more important than ever that we speak out - whether it is to address proposals from Washington, actions in Maryland, or the needs of individual consumer. Consumer Health First firmly believes that health care is a basic human right and we are committed to working to see that promise become a reality for all Marylanders.