Affordable Care Act | WYPR

Affordable Care Act

Much of the action in Annapolis this week moves to the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis. Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day--March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration.

In addition, legislative leaders are trying to get some of the more controversial bills, like the minimum wage increase, to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk in time for a potential veto override vote before March 29. That’s the date Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat and Naval Reserve officer, leaves to deploy to Afghanistan.

Maryland’s General Assembly steamed past the halfway point in its 90-day session last week and things are starting to get serious in Annapolis. This week, one committee takes up Maryland’s own version of the Affordable Care Act.

Others will take up bills to tighten some gun control laws and ease others, changes to Maryland’s medical marijuana program, bills to expand voter registration, an effort to get Exelon to help pay for cleaning up when that mess that’s behind the Conowingo Dam comes pouring through the flood gates.

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Health insurance premiums on plans in Maryland’s individual insurance market decreased this year as a result of a reinsurance fund state lawmakers approved last year, but the fund only has enough money to last a few years.

To keep premiums down over the long term, state lawmakers who return to Annapolis next week are considering a new health insurance mandate and a fine for anyone who lacks insurance.

The proposal is similar to the federal Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” that Congress repealed late in 2017, but there’s a big difference:  Maryland taxpayers would be able to treat the fine as a down payment on a health insurance plan.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file

Maryland has filed a legal challenge to Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as U.S. acting attorney general. The move is part of an ongoing lawsuit aimed at protecting the Affordable Care Act.

Maryland Health Connection

If Congress repeals or stops enforcing the individual mandate and Maryland doesn’t change anything about the way its insurance market works, state residents will feel the effects quickly, health care experts warned a state commission Tuesday.

“If we don’t act next year, it’s very likely we won’t have an individual market in 2019 in Maryland,” said Deb Rivkin, Vice President of Government Affairs for Maryland at Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer.

Sen. Ben Cardin said he is optimistic about a possible bipartisan health care bill. He made the comments on Friday while speaking with WYPR’s Tom Hall on Midday.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The General Assembly created a commission in the spring to protect Marylanders’ health insurance coverage from changes to the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid funding. The commission met for the first time Tuesday, and even though Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed in Congress last week, state lawmakers were far from relieved.

TEDxBaltimore / Flickr / Creative Commons

Evergreen Health is no longer allowed to sell insurance on Maryland’s individual health insurance market as a result of the insurer’s "financially hazardous condition," state Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer said in an administrative order Thursday.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan joined 10 other governors from around the country on Tuesday in opposing the Senate’s latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it.

Rachel Baye

Sixty-four-year old Johnnie Davis has been treating his heroin addiction at the Bon Secours New Hope Treatment Center in West Baltimore for nearly 20 years.

“When I came here, I didn’t have no insurance,” he said. “And if I wasn’t here, I could imagine where my life would have turned because I was known for drugs — selling drugs.”

Mind the gap. When the 2015 open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15 for plans sold on the individual market, consumers would be wise to act promptly to avoid a gap in coverage.

Failing to do so could leave you exposed to unexpected medical bills. (Uh-oh, appendicitis!) And you could also be hit with a penalty for not having health insurance that kicks in if you go without coverage for three months or more during the year.

Today is the last day for about 400,000 people to retain health insurance through federal healthcare insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Individuals who are currently receiving coverage but have failed to present the necessary documents verifying income and citizenship will be cut off.

While some are rushing to validate their subsidies, others are gearing up for the new open enrollment starting November 15.

Adrian Clark / Flickr / Creative Commons
Adrian Clark / Flickr / Creative Commons

Maryland's online insurance marketplace, the health exchange is being scrapped in favor of a system created in Connecticut. So, how will Maryland make sure that this around, things are done right? And will it be ready in time for the next open-enrollment period, which starts in November? With Sheilah Kast to answer those questions is Carolyn Quattrocki. She’s Acting Director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. And, with us by phone from Connecticut is Kevin Counihan, CEO of that state’s exchange, Access Health CT.

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Thousands have been signing up for health insurance in the last few days ahead of tomorrow's sign-up deadline. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who has been the O'Malley-Brown administration's point man on health-care reform, offered to speak with us about it. Sheilah Kast reached him on his cell phone this morning.

flickr/sapiensstudio

Under the Affordable Care Act, people are more likely to receive care in community health centers and at home than in hospitals, which means new responsibilities for nurses.  As the state does its full sprint to educate the uninsured, we wanted to focus on how some of the most crucial players are adapting: nurses. 

redwolfoz / Creative Commons

About a third of emergency room visits in Maryland could have been handled in a primary care setting. Will the Affordable Care Act change that... and, if so, when?

Maryland’s insurance commissioner has approved premium rates for individual health insurance plans to be sold through the state’s new health benefits exchange under the Affordable Care Act.