Waldorf, MD – Days after rates were announced for Maryland’s health exchange, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Steny Hoyer (both D-MD) hosted healthcare providers and health partners from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties for a discussion about healthcare reform and the upcoming Maryland Health Exchanges. Health care exchanges that begin in January 2014 are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act. Participants in the roundtable will be on the front lines of navigating the Maryland exchange in the individual market and will be dealing mainly with the uninsured.
“I am proud that Maryland has been on the leading edge of implementing the benefits and consumer-protections of the Affordable Care Act. As we move closer to the initial enrollment period, we are learning that rates in Maryland are among the lowest in the nation and that Marylanders will have a wider choice of plans available to them. We want to ensure that providers, hospitals and health partners are ready. Our community health centers especially, will grow in their role providing quality healthcare to Marylanders,” said Senator Cardin. “We have very limited information about the plans that will offer pediatric dental coverage. Today, I am requesting additional information from state officials regarding the benefit levels and cost-sharing for these plans, and I will continue to seek improvements at the national level. I would like to see improvements in the plans offered and benefits for pediatric dental care.”
“Maryland has been leading the nation when it comes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and I was pleased to join Southern Maryland health care providers today to hear from them about how their efforts are progressing,” stated Congressman Hoyer. “Our state exchange, the Maryland Health Connection, will be ready for open enrollment this October, and choice and competition in our marketplace will be strong. I look forward to continuing to work with our providers, the Maryland Congressional delegation and other stakeholders as implementation, outreach and enrollment move forward.”
The Maryland Health Connection is expected to enroll 180,000 of our state’s approximately 800,000 uninsured residents through private insurance and 100,000 more through Medicaid within the first year of enrollment, which begins October 1st. An estimated three out of four Marylanders purchasing coverage through the Maryland Health Connection will be eligible for tax credits to reduce the cost of coverage, bringing $7.5 billion in premium and cost sharing tax credits into Maryland during the first five years of the health insurance Exchange.
All health insurance coverage through the Maryland Health Connection and health exchanges across the country include comprehensive care, including outpatient and inpatient care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, laboratory testing and radiology, and prescription drug coverage; emphasis on preventive services, available free of charge; a cap on out-of-pocket expenses; and no lifetime or yearly dollar limits on coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, no one can be rejected due to pre-existing conditions.
The Affordable Care Act is working to lower costs, increase efficiency, and deliver better patient outcomes around the nation. We are already seeing benefits and savings from this legislation: Health care spending grew by 3.9% in 2011, continuing for the third consecutive year the slowest growth rate in 50 years; health-care costs grew slower than the rest of the economy in 2011 for the first time in more than a decade; the proportion of requests for double-digit premium increases plummeted from 75% in 2010 to 14% so far in 2013; Medicaid spending per beneficiary decreased by 1.9% from 2011 to 2012; Medicare spending per beneficiary grew by only 0.4% in fiscal year 2012. The Affordable Care Act is driving down cost growth while strengthening and expanding coverage.