Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation Thursday that is expected to stave off another year of huge increases in health insurance premiums and prevent the collapse of the state's individual health insurance markets.
The legislation, which received final General Assembly approval this week, seeks to stabilize Maryland's insurance market for individuals and hold down expected rate increases after Congress and President Donald J. Trump took actions last year that chipped away at the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation creates a reinsurance program that will be run by the state's Health Benefits Exchange to protect insurers against catastrophically expensive claims.
To do so, health insurers will pay $380 million in taxes over the next year to help contain surging premiums for 150,000 Maryland residents. Many insurers saw it as a reasonable price to pay to prevent a market collapse.
The Maryland legislation is the product of negotiations between Democratic legislative leaders and the Republican governor.
State lawmakers have finalized a bipartisan measure to collect $380 million in taxes from health insurers next year, use the money to help hold down surging premiums for 150,000 Marylanders — and potentially prevent an Obamacare marketplace from altogether collapsing.
Hogan also signed a bill that would prohibit the state from leaving a multi-state compact that seeks to control the emissions that lead to climate change without the approval of the legislature.
The governor has not sought to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Extension Act, as former Republican Gov. Chris Christie did in New Jersey. But Maryland lawmakers decided to make the state's participation a matter of law.
The bill was seen by some as veto bait, but Hogan supported the measure.
"This legislation will prevent future governors from undoing our legacy and our strong commitment to clean air, unless the legislature agrees and votes to do so," Hogan said.