Expanding Coverage ... Again

March 04, 2019 By: Bob Atlas

Hospitals have long been dedicated to the proposition that the people they serve must have health insurance, so that they can afford care and so that risks and costs are spread equitably. That enables people to live healthy, productive lives.

However, about 1 in 20 Marylanders still lack health insurance. And because of efforts at the federal level to undercut the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured once again could rise.

I testified last week at the House of Delegates – and will testify at the Senate this week – in support of legislation that works to expand health coverage in the state. (Read MHA’s full position here). The bill has the potential to cover approximately an additional 130,000 Marylanders.

The proposal would have individuals indicate on tax forms if they lack health insurance and, if so, to receive guidance on Medicaid eligibility or the opportunity to buy insurance on the health benefit exchange. A state-levied penalty on some individuals would work as a down payment of premiums for basic health coverage. Many people will receive federal subsidies to cover the part of premiums not paid for by the down payment.

In speaking to the General Assembly, I am describing the historic role that hospitals have played in ensuring that patients have health insurance. I am also noting the pivotal role Maryland hospitals play in the Total Cost of Care Model.

At the heart of our support for the bill is importance of basic health care coverage to your efforts to transform health care. As I noted, “advances in care delivery cannot be fully realized unless people have affordable, good health care coverage to access care.”

Bob Atlas

President & CEO