Maryland’s county and city leaders teamed up on Tuesday to urge the General Assembly to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of legislation that would establish a permanent funding source for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board.

The Senate voted to override the veto in  January. The House of Delegates is expected to consider a veto override later this month. Hogan vetoed the legislation last year along with 21 other bills due to fiscal concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation unanimously passed the Senate and received overwhelming support in the House.

“This board needs funding. It’s an assessment on some 1,400 drug companies-a very small assessment. And I just can’t understand why anybody would oppose it,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) said at a virtual news conference that was sponsored by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

This morning the group kicked-off a radio ad campaign in support of the veto override effort.

“We have to look at ways to fund this legislation,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) said. “This is something that cannot wait for COVID-19 to be over….This is about making sure everyone has proper access to life-saving prescriptions and medication.”

“Overriding this veto is so important because we must do more to improve the quality of life for older adults in every community across the state of Maryland,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) said. “We know there are millions of Marylanders who can’t afford the medicine they need and that even healthy families often feel the effects of high drug prices.”

“Right now being able to make sure that prescription drugs are affordable is extra important,” Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said. “And we know prescription drugs can only work if you can afford them and afford to take them…We must find a way to bring down the cost of medications for our county budgets and for all the people across the great state of Maryland.”

“Prescription drug affordability is not a partisan issue,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) said. “I always remind folks that no matter what, when you go to the drug store to pick your prescription-the pharmacist does not ask for your voter registration card to see whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. They are interested in your co-pay and your insurance.”

“This board is a popular bipartisan effort to lower the cost of drugs for all Marylanders in every corner of our state,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) said. “Despite the relative wealth of Howard County many of our residents cannot afford the costs associated with challenging medical illnesses, especially prescription drugs.”

The board held its first meeting last year. It is chaired by former Health & Mental Hygiene secretary Van Mitchell.

The board will eventually have the power to limit the cost of high-priced drugs that meet certain criteria.

This article originally appeared on on February 3, 2021.

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