March 21, 2023
Contact: Vincent DeMarco
Legislature Making Major Progress Toward Having All Marylanders Enrolled in Affordable Coverage
The Maryland General Assembly is poised to pass a significant package of legislation that will help the state make major progress toward its goal of having all Marylanders enrolled in affordable health insurance. The bills, supported by the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition, will give access to health insurance to many more Marylanders, including low-income households, young adults, and immigrants. Another measure will help the state continue to develop strategies to bring down the cost of expensive prescription drugs.
“The General Assembly is making amazing progress this year to help us reach our goal of having all Marylanders covered with affordable health insurance,” said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition. “We have made major strides in the past several years, and 2023 is shaping up to be another great year for strengthening our health insurance system to help us achieve the goal Governor Wes Moore set out in his Inaugural Address of leaving no Marylander behind in health care coverage. These measures will help more Marylanders have peace of mind and access to affordable health care. And as we get more and more of our residents covered, we all benefit as we reduce uncompensated hospital care for which we all pay with higher premiums.”
With the anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act coming on Thursday, March 23rd, the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition is advocating for the following measures, which have received strong support in the legislature and are poised to be enacted this year:
Enroll SNAP Recipients In Medicaid (SB 26/HB 111). Sponsored by Senator Malcolm Augustine and Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, the measure will automatically enroll recipients of SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) into Medicaid who are eligible but not yet enrolled. This measure would reduce paperwork and help an estimated 65,000 uninsured Marylanders get the health coverage they need, including 23,000 Black Marylanders and 28,000 Hispanics, improving health equity. In addition, the legislation would renew coverage automatically for at least 600,000 Marylanders who rely on Medicaid for their health care. Each bill has cleared one chamber and the coalition is hopeful the measure will win final approval.
Health Care Subsidies for Young Adults (SB 601/HB 814). This measure, sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Kenneth Kerr, will extend a successful pilot for another two years, providing state subsidies to bring down the cost of health insurance for young adults ages 18-34. State officials say this program has assisted roughly 45,000 young adults, including 17,000 newly enrolled young adults, and has reduced health disparities within this age group. Each bill has cleared one chamber and the coalition is hopeful the measure will win final approval.
Expand Health Coverage Regardless of Immigration Status (SB 365/HB 588).The Access to Care Act, sponsored by Senator Clarence Lam and Delegate Bonnie Cullison, would allow people to purchase health coverage from the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange regardless of immigration status. The coalition thanks CASA for taking the lead on advocating for this measure. HB 588 has passed the House, and the coalition is hopeful the measure will win final approval by the Assembly.
Study Expansion of Health Insurance to Immigrants (SB 806/HB 363). Sponsored by Senators Ariana Kelly and Shelly Hettleman and Delegate Bonnie Cullison, the bill would require the state to study how to expand Medicaid and CHIP coverage to provide affordable coverage to all income-eligible Marylanders and expand subsidies for private health coverage, regardless of immigration status. The coalition thanks CASA for taking the lead on advocating for this measure. SB 806 has passed the Senate and the coalition is hopeful the measure will win final approval by the Assembly.
Fully Fund the Prescription Drug Affordability Board (HB 200 & HB 202) and Confirm the PDAB’s authority (SB 202/HB 279). The legislature is moving toward approval of $1 million in additional funding for the work of the Board, which is studying how to bring down the cost of high-cost medications. The funding, which has cleared the House and we are hopeful will also clear the Senate, will ensure the Board can work effectively to develop solutions and make drugs more affordable to Marylanders. In addition, legislation sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Bonnie Cullison confirms the PDAB’s critical authority to make high cost drugs more affordable for state and local governments by using upper payment limits. Each bill has cleared one chamber and the coalition is hopeful the measure will win final approval.Last modified: June 7, 2023