Healthcare advocates support bill to establish health insurance down payment plan

Original Source | By: Katie Misuraca

Local | February 15, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Major health care organizations have announced their support for legislation to establish a health insurance down payment plan in Maryland.

In an effort to protect the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers in Annapolis and health advocates have announced their support behind a bill that would establish a health care insurance down-payment plan for Maryland.

"The Affordable Care Act has been a success in Maryland,” said Vincent DeMarco, president, Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative. “We have to protect that success and build on it."

During tax season, Marylanders will be asked if they have quality health coverage. If the answer is no, citizens have a choice: either pay a penalty to the state or use tax money to purchase insurance.

A co-sponsor for the bill, Senator Brian Feldman (D) District 15, said that around six to seven years ago that Maryland had around 12 percent of people who had no health insurance. Now, it is at six percent. 

“We want to incentives people to purchase health insurance...instead of having those dollars what we are calling individual responsibility money, for not having health insurance,” said Sen. Feldman. “We are going to let the people use that to purchase health insurance for them and their families."

In December 2017, federal tax legislation ended federal enforcement of the Affordable Care Act requirement to people who can afford health insurance.

"We have to protect ourselves from what the federal government is doing,” said Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, (D) District 21.

In Maryland, 130,000 uninsured residents have access to zero cost health insurance through Medicaid or private insurance, prepaid for, by their premium tax credits, but are not enrolled, says Stan Dorn, Director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation. Nationally, 11 million people are in that situation,

"The fact is that lots of uninsured have no idea that finical health is available to them,” said Dorn. “Most of them do not even know there is a health exchange."

Maryland lawmakers say their bill would help enroll more people into health insurance.

Officials say around 13,000 Marylanders are likely to add to health insurance which could mean lower premiums.

New Jersey and Vermont are just some states that have passed similar laws with state tax systems. 


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