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Health

Maryland launches health care reform website

The state will launch a website today that it hopes will give people a road map to health care reform as the country marks the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark legislation.

The website, HealthReform.Maryland.gov, will provide users with information about benefits they can already take advantage of as well as those that will become available later. Most parts of the health care package won't take effect until 2014.

Reform provisions already available include those giving seniors prescription drug rebate checks, allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies until they are 26 and issuing small businesses tax credits for insurance.

However, the initiative also faces numerous court challenges, and the question of whether the government can require people to participate will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

The state's website will be divided into categories — families and individuals, small businesses, seniors — so people can find the most relevant information. The site will also provide a timeline and basic information about health care reform.

Users will also be able to turn to the website to find updates on reform.

Maryland is one of the states furthest along in its implementation of the law, including beginning to establish exchanges, or the open markets through which people will be able to buy insurance. The state's efforts are being led by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who is co-chairman of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council.

A study by the state found that 700,000 people, or 13 percent of the population, are uninsured.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

twitter.com: ankwalker

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