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State Senate approves emergency option for Marylanders stuck in health exchange limbo

The Maryland Senate approved an emergency plan Tuesday designed to help people stuck without insurance because of the state’s glitch-ridden health exchange. Lawmakers vowed inquiries will continue into what went wrong.

The emergency proposal, which now moves to the House of Delegates, would allow people to sign up for the state's high-risk insurance program that was supposed to end when the Affordable Care Act took effect. The coverage would be retroactive to Jan. 1.

State officials estimate that as many as 5,000 people who tried without success to buy policies online may seek coverage through the legislation. The four companies that sell policies through the exchange also agreed to allow people to sign up for retroactive coverage dating back to Jan. 1 if they signed up for coverage by 5 p.m. Tuesday. As of Monday evening, 599 households had done so, an exchange spokeswoman said.

The emergency bill passed the Senate 38-8 with some Republican support. Minority Leader David Brinkley said that while he disagrees with the health care law, he voted for the proposal to help people harmed by the broken exchange.

“This is the public statement that the state messed up,” said Brinkley, a Republican who represents Frederick County.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller told reporters he wants to see a "full explanation of what occurred," and that the a panel of lawmakers would continue its probe.

"Why wasn’t this a successful rollout?" Miller said. "You know, I’m not looking to blame anyone. I’m just looking for explanations.  People are entitled to explanations."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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