Legislation poised to expand health care coverage for Marylanders

Three pieces of legislation poised to pass the Maryland General Assembly will further expand access to care and strengthen the state’s health care system, according to Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.


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The Health Insurance Premium Subsidies bill, SB 729, sponsored by Sen. Brian Feldman, and its twin bill HB 780, sponsored by Del. Ken Kerr, authorizes the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to provide new health insurance coverage subsides for lower-income young adults.

In a House Finance Committee hearing, Feldman testified:

“Though we’ve seen a reduction in premiums and our uninsured rate has dropped to 6%, we need to look for new ways to bring down the premiums and get more Marylanders insured. We need to get the younger, healthy people into the risk pool. If not, you’re stuck with an older, sicker population.”

The Expand Insurance Enrollment for the Unemployed bills, SB 893, sponsored by Sen. Jim Rosapepe, and HB 1002, sponsored by Del. Lorig Charkoudian, would connect people who file for unemployment insurance with the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange so they can easily access health coverage. This builds on Maryland’s successful first-in-the-nation Easy Enrollment law that connects people to health insurance when they file their state taxes.

In a Maryland Economic Matters Committee in February, Brig Dumais — who was representing 1199 SEIU — testified 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.”

The Health Equity Resource Communities bills, SB 172, sponsored by Sen. Antonio Hayes and HB 463, sponsored by Delegates Erek Barron and Jazz Lewis, would create Health Equity Resource Communities that would receive new funding to reduce racial disparities in health outcomes by improving access to care.

DeMarco is hopeful the General Assembly will give final approval to these three measures.

“By enacting these new public health measures, we would expand health coverage to thousands of additional Marylanders who are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage but not now enrolled and address the long-term problem of health disparities by creating Health Equity Resource Communities.”