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What Md. must do to preserve health care

Maryland lawmakers must take additional steps to ensure that people have access to quality health care.

The recent article about health care progress in Maryland accurately describes how the Maryland General Assembly is poised to pass very significant legislation to help keep down premium increases in Maryland’s individual health insurance market (“Maryland lawmakers set to do what Congress can’t: protect Obamacare with tax on insurers,” March 23). This is necessary because the Trump administration and Congress have done all they could to undermine the health care coverage progress we have made in America under the Affordable Care Act.

However, the reinsurance plan that is about to become law is not enough. The General Assembly should also address directly Congress’ decision to stop enforcement of the individual mandate after 2019. This can be done through the creative health insurance down payment proposal by Sen. Brian Feldman (SB 1011) and Joseline Peña-Melnyk (HB 1167) which would take the money uninsured people would have to pay the state and use it to get them insured. In addition, to further keeping premiums down, this proposal would get tens of thousands more Marylanders insured and bring many millions of new federal dollars into Maryland. This would truly be turning the lemon of Congressional bad action into lemonade of Maryland progress.

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The Sun refers to polling done on this the health issue by OpinionWorks. This poll was commissioned by us, and it shows that Marylanders, including Republicans and voters in key swing districts, strongly support a health insurance down payment plan. Overall, Marylanders support this idea by 60 percent to 20 percent and they say they are more likely to vote for candidates for governor who support this creative way to protect health care in Maryland.

Both the reinsurance proposal and the health insurance down payment idea are the result of work done since last year’s General Assembly session by the Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission on which I am honored to serve and which is co-chaired by Senator Feldman and Delegate Peña-Melnyk. This commission will continue to work after the 2018 session to develop smart ideas to protect Marylanders’ health.

We commend the General Assembly for passing the reinsurance measure and urge them to also pass the health insurance down payment so that Maryland can do all we can to make quality affordable health care available for all our people.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

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