ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 15, 2010) – A week after delivering the keynote address at AcademyHealth’s annual National Health Policy Conference, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown testified today before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in support of the O’Malley-Brown administration’s priority health care bills. Brown is scheduled to testify on the same bills tomorrow before the Senate Finance Committee.
“Health reform isn’t about reform, it’s about health. The federal Affordable Care Act is an historic opportunity to expand access, lower costs and improve the quality of care,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Even before President Obama signed the ACA into law, we intended to develop a national model to make Maryland the healthiest state in America. To reach our goal, we must begin implementing the federal bill now. Our priority health care bills are an important step in the right direction, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that we stay on the right path to bend the cost curve and expand access to quality care.”
“We appreciate the valuable input we have received from individuals, businesses and other organizations. Together we will move health reform implementation forward in Maryland,” said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.
Governor Martin O’Malley introduced three health care bills as part of his legislative package – a bill establishing the framework for a health benefits exchange (HB166/SB182), a bill amending Maryland’s insurance laws to enforce consumer protection provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act (HB165/SB182) and a bill designed to enhance the state’s ability to bend the cost curve by establishing the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council in statute (HB170/SB183). The bills aim to improve access, improve quality and lower costs in the health care system.
* Improve Access – Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2011(HB 166/SB 182): This bill establishes a structure and framework to develop the insurance exchange required by the Affordable Care Act. The exchange will provide individuals and small businesses one-stop shopping for affordable insurance options; help an estimated 180,000 low-income Marylanders access federal subsidies for coverage; support small business access to affordable coverage; and allow private insurers to offer competitive plans in a fair and transparent marketplace where consumers will be able to compare rates, benefits, and quality to find plans that best suit their needs.
* Improve Quality – Health Insurance Reforms (HB 170/SB 183): This bill aligns Maryland law with the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, including the provisions that bar exclusions from insurance based on pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits on benefits, requirements that insurance companies cover certain preventive services like mammograms and flu shots, and the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
* Lowering Costs – Health Quality and Cost Council (HB 165/SB 175): This legislation will establish the Council in law and expand the state’s successful effort to bring public agencies and the private sector together to improve the quality and reduce the cost of health care in Maryland.
Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown administration’s health care portfolio. Governor O’Malley appointed Brown co-chair of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council. Brown also chairs the Health Quality and Cost Council. Because of health reforms enacted in Maryland during the administration’s first term that expanded health coverage to 250,000 Marylanders, the federal reform law will save Maryland $850 million and cut the number of uninsured Marylanders in half by 2020.