Advocates in Maryland hold signs in support of Maryland Senate Bill 778, Healthy Babies Equity Act. Photo source: Maryland Matters

Maryland Matters
Rosanne Skirbles
May 26, 2022


“…Maryland’s uninsured rate is at an historic low at 6%, down from 13-15% in 2000.

“The Affordable Care Act is a huge part of that,” said Suzanne Schlattman, deputy director of Maryland Health Care for All Coalition, the state’s largest health care consumer organization. She also credits legislative measures including subsidies for youth, easy enrollment to help with signups, a reinsurance program to keep costs from skyrocketing and new state funding for locally designed efforts to remove barriers to care in communities with documented health disparities.

However, none of the federal programs or these state’s initiatives for the uninsured population include undocumented Marylanders, which number 275,000 according the American Immigration Council.

Consequently, the care options open for undocumented immigrants are costly private insurance, hospital emergency rooms, online information or free clinics.

Vicente has tried them all. “It is hard or impossible to make an appointment [at the clinics], and they don’t offer everything,” she lamented.

Healthy Babies Equity Act expands some care

During the Maryland General Assembly session that ended last month, CASA mobilized behind two health care bills: the Access to Care Act, which wasn’t voted out of committee, and the Healthy Babies Equity Act, which passed with a veto-proof majority and will go into effect on July 1 without the signature of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

“Immigration status should not be a barrier to receiving life-saving care, for mothers, for their children, for anyone, period,” said Cathryn Paul, government relations and public policy manager at CASA, the largest Latino and immigrant advocacy organization in the Mid-Atlantic.

The Healthy Babies Equity Act, which passed the General Assembly in March along mostly party lines with Republicans opposed, expands Medicaid to cover prenatal and postpartum care to pregnant people regardless of immigration status. Seventeen other states, including Virginia and Texas, provide coverage to pregnant people regardless of immigration status through Medicaid or other state-established programs.”

Read the full article at Maryland Matters.

Last modified: July 12, 2022