Jim Shea, one of nine declared candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, said Maryland should become more involved in a push to create a federal single-payer insurance plan. Until then, the former chairman of Venable LLP said the state should work to improve health care in the state while controlling costs.
“I’ve concluded that single payer is the most efficient way to provide health care to Americans. Accomplishing two goals: One, to make sure everybody has health care, which I think is a fundamental right. Two, it will enable us to do it most efficiently in the means that we can devote, which is finite.” Shea said. “The idea that Maryland could go to a single-payer model isn’t viable because I think it would cost the state too much to do that.”
Shea said that as governor he would attempt to focus on incentivizing the effort to improve outcomes in health care while also controlling costs by using physician panels similar to those used by CareFirst and other insurance providers.
“That’s the kind of system that wouldn’t ration health care but would alleviate some of the upward stress,” Shea said. “We need to incentivize the whole system to produce healthy patients. The notion, it sounds silly but think about it, is that doctors should get paid when patients don’t come into the office because they’re ill as opposed to being rewarded for multiple visits.”
He also said the state should work to ensure a renewal of its roughly $2 billion Medicaid waiver program, which is unique to the rest of the country.
CareFirst uses panels of five to 15 doctors to coordinate care of patients with significant needs or chronic conditions.
Since the inception of the program in 2011, the state’s largest private insurer has saved $945 million by reducing hospital admissions, emergency room visits and hospital stays.
Shea added that taxes on soft drinks, similar to those on tobacco products, as well as legislation to reduce gun violence, including changes to regulations for handgun permitting, could further reduce costs.
The field of primary contenders currently also includes Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz; Montgomery County state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr.; former NAACP President Ben Jealous; Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the owner of a Washington DC consulting firm and the wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings; technology policy expert and former Hillary Clinton aide Alec Ross; former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah; and activist and educator Ralph Jaffe.
Reporter Tim Curtis contributed to this report.