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baltimoresun.com

Obamacare is improving health of Marylanders

2:00 PM EDT, June 2, 2013

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I adamantly disagree with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s perspective on the Affordable Care Act ("Lost jobs, higher costs: Obamacare hits home," May 26). The real facts are clear. The Affordable Care Act is improving Maryland's fiscal and physical health right now.

Since the law's enactment, more than 1.5 million people in Maryland now have access to no-cost preventive services, 2.2 million no longer have to worry about lifetime caps on coverage limits and 46,000 additional young people receive coverage from their parents' plans. In 2014, the law will strengthen Maryland's insurance system for those buying coverage in the individual market through the best exchange in the country. Once fully implemented in 2020, the law will expand quality, affordable access to care for more than 275,000 currently uninsured Marylanders, provide a $672 million boost to the state and create more than 26,000 jobs.

The law builds on Maryland's existing centers of excellence and strong health care and public health systems. While some details are still uncertain, what people really need right now is clear information to help them understand the law and how it affects them. The Affordable Care Act has already tremendously improved our health system, and it holds great promise for Maryland and states across the country in years to come. The law's ultimate goal is to help people live longer, higher quality lives. Obamacare will help this become a reality for all Marylanders and we should all embrace it.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Gaithersburg

The writer is executive director of the American Public Health Association, a former secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and member of the Maryland Health Exchange Board.