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Supporters of health reform breathe a sigh of relief

Supporters of health care reform are breathing a sigh of relief after the re-election of President Barack Obama.

Challenger Mitt Romney had vowed to repeal the law if elected, but now it is in safer territory.

The provision, which requires most people to buy health insurance, was a key initiative of Obama's first term.

While there likely won't be a complete overhaul of health reform, funding of the provision could come up in Congress as the country looks to reduce its massive deficit.

While most of the law doesn't take affect until 2014, some provisions have already been implemented, including allowing young people to stay on their parent's insurance through age 25.

Maryland continued to move forward with implementing reform despite the uncertainty surrounding the election. For instance, the state is in the process of creating the exchanges where people without employee-sponsored plans will buy insurance. Open enrollment on the exchanges begins Oct. 2013.

The state has also identified key benefits and services that all plans must cover.

State officials estimate that one-third of Maryland's 750,000 uninsured residents will gain coverage under reform in its first year. Those living on less than 133 percent of the federally established poverty level -- about $31,000 for a family of four -- also will gain coverage through an expansion of Medicaid.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has led the state's health reform efforts. 

"With President Obama's re-election, American voters have reaffirmed our nation's commitment to the goals of (health reform)," Brown said. "We have made great progress, and I am pleased that we will continue to have a partner in the White House for four more years in our efforts to ensure all Marylanders can access quality, affordable health care." 

The Maryland Health Care For All Coalition!, an advocacy group in support of reform, will run radio ads beginning tomorrow praising the continuation of reform because of Obama's win.



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