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INDIVIDUAL HEALTHCARE MANDATE BEING CONSIDERED IN MARYLAND

The ACA Times 
December 7, 2017
Robert Sheen

While Republicans in Congress will be discussing whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in final tax reform legislation, the state of Maryland is considering implementing its own healthcare mandate for its state residents.

Senate Republicans added repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate to the Senate’s tax reform bill to save nearly $340 billion in federal funds during the next decade to mitigate increases to the federal deficit. The savings result from the federal government not having to pay premium tax credits (PTCs) to help low-income individuals and families offset the cost of securing healthcare insurance on government exchanges to comply with the individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the effect of repealing the individual mandate would be to increase by another 13 million more in uninsured Americans.

The Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission was formed to study the potential impact of federal health care reform on Maryland. Its members include representatives from across the health care industry and state legislators. The group is reviewing several ideas to address consequences to the state’s insurance market caused by a repeal of the ACA individual mandate, including replacing it with a state mandate.

If passed, Maryland would join Massachusetts in having its own state individual healthcare insurance mandate. Massachusetts’ individual mandate had been adopted in 2006 prior to the ACA’s enactment.

In a poll conducted by OpinionWorks for Citizen’s Health Initiative, a state healthcare advocacy group, 65% of Maryland residents were actually in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate; 52% in favor of a state-specific individual mandate.

Vincent DeMarco, president of Citizens’ Health Initiative and a member of the state commission, is a proponent of establishing a state individual mandate. “There keep being threats to the individual mandate and other things in the ACA,” DeMarco told local news site Maryland Matters. “The conventional wisdom is that it’s the least popular part of the ACA, and people don’t want it. But in Maryland, they do.”

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