As bills crossover from one side of Bladen Street to the other this week, we will have a better sense of which bills will and won't pass. (Check out our Legislative Agenda page for updates.) In the meantime, in our arena, the hot action is around the need to address the affordability of health insurance for individuals and the stabilization of that market. Two reports last week highlight the issues:
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - looked at proposals to address the greatest risks to the individual market;
- Covered California - provided a national economic analysis of the impact of rising premiums and estimates of the effects of federal policies. Maryland was ranked as a high-risk state with the potential for further premium increases of 50%. We would note, as Delegate Cullison (D-19) did yesterday at the bill hearing, that these are on top of the already high prices. That would argue for the study for a Medicaid Buy-In that we encourage the Legislature to pass.
The "solutions" being looked at right now in Maryland include:
- HB 1795: This emergency bill would provide authorization to establish a Health Care Access Program and for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) and Insurance Commissioner to submit a 1332 waiver to the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill passed out of the House Health and Government Operations Committee (HGO) last Thursday. Read our testimony.
- HB 1782: This emergency bill would establish the process and funding streams for the Health Care Access Program. It was heard on Monday, March 12, and we provided testimony that included two amendments. In our oral comments, we made a few additional points including the:
- need to ensure that short-term plans (as described in both reports cited above) are not allowed for sale in Maryland;
- Exchange must be adequately funded;
- Exchange's Standing Advisory Committee be actively engaged in the preparation of the 1332 Waiver application. The Waiver process will entail at least two public meetings and a comment period. CHF believes that, in addition, the diversity of expertise on the Advisory Committee could provide the Board and staff with invaluable assistance.
We very much appreciate the work being done by Chair Shane Pendergrass (D-13) and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-21), as well as the other HGO members including Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16). Her leadership on HB 1312, our Medicaid Buy-In Task Force bill, is critical as we look at other ways to ensure affordability and access.
Even as Maryland is taking steps to address the affordability issue, there is also potential action on Capitol Hill as Sam Baker reports in Axios. He cites a new report by Oliver Wyman that looks at the impact of the proposed federal reinsurance program.
For information on all of the bill's CHF is tracking and our testimony, visit our Legislative Page.