House bill would connect unemployed to health care options

The Maryland Economic Matters Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would provide continuity of health insurance coverage when an individual files an unemployment claim. The bill, HB 1002, is sponsored by Del. Lorig Charkoudian and would require the Maryland Department of Health to implement a system through which claimants can consent to sharing their information with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and the Maryland Department of Health. The agencies could then identify those who qualify for free or low-cost health insurance and help them enroll.

 

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Brig Dumais, who was representing 1199 SEIU, testified in the hearing that many Marylanders can only afford health insurance through their employers. House Bill 1002 allows people to continue to support their families’ health regardless of their employment status, she said.

“This bill creates a necessary structure to improve overall health equity for Marylanders.”

Several advocates for health care coverage testified in favor of the bill, including Stan Dorn of Families USA.

“This legislation would help nearly 150,000 Maryland residents who rely on unemployment insurance to make ends meet but have no health insurance.”

Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, also urged the committee for a favorable report on the bill.

“There are tens of thousands of Marylanders who are eligible for free or reduced cost health care who don’t know how to enroll in it. Getting them enrolled is an equity issue.”

DeMarco testified that the Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program led to 50,000 more Marylanders having health insurance.

“Now we can build on that success. When people file for unemployment is a good time to catch those who don’t know that they can get health care insurance.”