- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Washington Redskins offensive tackle Chris Samuels were at a Greenbelt high school Tuesday to debut an advertisement aimed at raising awareness of the states Medicaid program.

The ad encourages residents to dial 211 to see if they qualify for the Medical Assistance for Families program, which aims to increase medical coverage to more than 100,000 low-income, uninsured Marylanders.

Flanked by Mr. Samuels and the Eleanor Roosevelt High Schools Raiders football team, Mr. OMalley, sporting a Raiders jersey, announced the initiative on the schools football field.

Joining him in delivering the message was Rep. Donna Edwards, Maryland Democrat, state and local leaders and health care advocates.

“We make progress through partnerships … through partnership with the federal government … and with partners in small places close to home,” Mr. OMalley told the gathered crowd, in words borrowed from Eleanor Roosevelt.

“As the debate on health care reform continues in our country, we must lead by example by continuing to expand health care coverage … to let Marylanders know that they can get affordable, quality health care,” he said.

The $100,000 public-service announcement campaign, sponsored by Maryland Health Care for All, AARP and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, includes a radio spot featuring Mr. Samuels and Mr. OMalley that began airing Tuesday. A similar campaign last year featured the Democratic governor and Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed in radio ads encouraging Baltimore residents to enroll in the program.

Under the law that went into effect in July 2008, parents with annual incomes up to 116 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or up to $20,500 for a family of three, are now eligible for Medicaid.

According to the governors office, 47,781 Marylanders have joined the Medical Assistance for Families program to date.

The governors message appeared well-received by the young students, who were thrilled to have Mr. Samuels on their field, with many vowing to spread the word to friends and family, so that more become aware of the help that was just a three-digit phone call away.

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