February 23, 2021                                    

Contact: Vincent DeMarco

Hearing Tuesday on Legislation to Allow Marylanders to Enroll in Health Insurance While They Apply for Unemployment Insurance

Measure would make it easier for people to secure health coverage

Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, will join other witnesses at a hearing Tuesday to support HB 1002 sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery County) which would reform the Unemployment Insurance system and allow Marylanders to apply for health insurance coverage while they apply for unemployment benefits. Similar legislation, SB 893 by Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s County) will be heard on March 2. These bills would model this provision on the state’s Easy Enrollment program that allows people to start the process of signing up for health insurance by checking a box on their state tax returns. Like Easy Enrollment, this program would also be a model for other states.

The Economic Matters hearing takes place Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m.

“During focus groups which we commissioned about the Easy Enrollment program, we heard loud and clear from people who were not enrolled in health care but eligible for free or low-cost health care that one of the best times to reach them would be when they filed for unemployment insurance,” DeMarco’s testimony reads. “Connecting unemployed Marylanders with health coverage is a matter of heath equity. Unemployment among people with disabilities has risen sharply as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The gap between white unemployment and Black and Latino unemployment has widened. At the same time, these populations are at higher risk of death from COVID-19 and need access to health coverage. We commend Delegate Charkoudian and Senator Rosapepe for sponsoring this legislation and we thank Families USA for helping us develop this terrific new way to get more people enrolled in critically needed health care coverage.”

The bill would establish a mechanism so that people applying for benefits could have their information shared with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which oversees the state’s online insurance marketplace. The Exchange would provide information about the applicant’s eligibility and assist them in signing up for health coverage.

Last modified: May 3, 2022