July 25, 2022

Van Hollen, Cardin, Trone Host U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra in Maryland’s Sixth District

Friday, Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Congressman David Trone (Md.-06) discussed medical research, abortion care, and suicide prevention in Frederick and Montgomery Counties.

Senators Van Hollen and Cardin along with the Secretary and Congressman Trone – a cancer survivor – visited the National Cancer Institute (NCI) facility in Frederick, Maryland to discuss the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, an attempt to accelerate scientific discovery in Cancer through research and collaboration, during a tour and town hall with employees of the Institute. The NCI is home to around 2,700 government and contract biometric researchers, laboratory technicians, statisticians, and scientists from multiple other disciplines. Through the work of everyone involved in NCI, the Institute is at the forefront of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. 

The lawmakers and Secretary Becerra then traveled to Germantown, Maryland to attend a roundtable discussion focused on reproductive rights with Planned Parenthood in Montgomery County. Representatives from ProChoice Maryland, the Women's Law Center of Maryland, and Physicians for Reproductive Health also attended. 

In wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Executive Order signed by President Biden, uncertainty has increased nationwide about access to abortion care. The discussion focused on the impact the Executive Order will have on services provided nationally and how Maryland will be able to support patients traveling across state lines from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. 

Van Hollen, Cardin, Trone, and Becerra finished the day by traveling to Gaithersburg, Maryland to meet with local stakeholders who have been the driving force behind the state’s deployment of 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Since its implementation on July 16, the code “988” can be called or texted to by anyone nationwide and will connect to trained members of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. During the roundtable, the group discussed ways to improve mental health in Maryland and across the United States, as well as future federal funding for the broader effort. The roundtable can be viewed here

“Improving the health and wellbeing of Marylanders – including ensuring access to care – is one of our top priorities. That’s why we were excited to have Secretary Becerra in our state to highlight our joint efforts to advance this goal, from supporting the groundbreaking research at the National Cancer Institute to defending reproductive rights to improving mental health services,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “Together we will keep working to strengthen these vital initiatives to benefit the health of Marylanders and people across our nation.” 

“From the cancer moonshot to health care services, including abortion care, to 988 – it’s all about saving lives. Congressman Trone is about making life better for a lot of folks and we need Members in the House and Senate who really have that belief,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra at the 988 Lifeline roundtable. “During the deployment of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, I hope we’ve learned that we have to do more than respond to the call or text and provide follow-up services for those in need. We have neglected mental health for way too long, and we have to get to the point where we say primary health care includes behavioral health care. Lives depend on it.”

“I was pleased to join Secretary Becerra, Congressman Trone, and Senator Van Hollen in discussing ways to improve the health and wellbeing of communities in Maryland and around the country,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “Team Maryland has always faced our most challenging issues head-on, and I look forward to continuing our combined efforts with the Biden-Harris administration to ensure Marylanders and folks across the nation can lead healthier lives.” 

“I’m grateful to have been joined by Secretary Becerra and Maryland’s Senators today to reaffirm our commitment to mental health in Maryland’s Sixth District and communities across the country. We have made strides in investing in resources for those struggling, but the work is far from over,” said Congressman David Trone. “Moving from the pandemic, we have to recognize the crisis our country is facing with mental health and substance use disorder. More importantly, we have to work together – across the aisle – to get the job done. I plan to continue to do just that.”