Silver Spring, MD – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, visited Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring today for a roundtable discussion with Montgomery County health care providers and health partners. Key to the discussion was the upcoming enrollment period for the Maryland Health Connection, one of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act that begins in 2014. Kevin J. Sexton, president and CEO of Holy Cross Health, welcomed participants in the roundtable who will be on the front lines of navigating the exchange in the individual markets and noted the importance of getting information out.
“I am proud that Maryland’s hospitals, healthcare providers and health systems have been on the leading edge of implementing the benefits and consumer-protections of the Affordable Care Act,” said Senator Cardin. “The Affordable Care Act is already providing stable and secure coverage for families in Montgomery County and across Maryland. The law is slowing the growth of healthcare costs to provide Americans with better value, better options, and better health. Obamacare is here to stay and we should be working together to build on the progress we’ve made through the law.”
Holy Cross will provide financial counselors at Holy Cross Hospital and its health centers in addition to providing outreach workers in the community. Holy Cross will work closely with Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, which was selected as the “Connector Entity” charged with promoting enrollment in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
As part of his outreach to health care providers across Maryland, Senator Cardin has been learning how information is being disseminated to the public about services and coverage offered and what challenges health providers face as we draw closer to the enrollment period for the new health exchanges. Maryland’s Insurance Commissioner has approved rates for individual health plans to be sold through Maryland Health Connection beginning Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Participants in the roundtable will be on the front lines of navigating the exchange in the individual market.
“Over the next six months, consumers from all 50 states will be able to shop for insurance options through the marketplace. It is estimated that as many as 7 million Americans will gain access to healthcare through the marketplaces in the first year. Those Americans will benefit from strong competition among insurance providers. Consumers in Maryland and nationwide will have multiple options to choose from at different coverage levels — about 90% will have five or more insurance companies to choose from,” Senator Cardin added. “Enrolling these Americans in health coverage won’t happen overnight, but the Administration is prepared to use the lessons gained from enrolling people in Medicare Part D and CHIP, and its experience running call centers that serve 26 million consumers annually, to meet the challenge.”
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.