Many Republicans are skeptical, but Democrat controlled Maryland legislature approves new health care reform

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March 28, 2013

Maryland

By: Josh Altic

Annapolis, Maryland: A new Health Benefit Exchange program was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates on Monday in a sharply divided 93-43 vote. 92 Democrats and 1 Republican approved the measure and only 1 Democrat joined the remaining 42 Republicans in opposing it. The Maryland Senate joined the House in passing this bill with a 35-11 majority, clearing the way for the measure to become active law.[1][2]

The new measure implements a program, becoming operational by January first, which creates funding for the new insurance market known as the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which offers residents the option of several different private health plans. The first year of this program will be funded by the federal government but after 2015 the State will pay approximately $24 million to fund it. This measure also expands the Medicaid eligibility from the current 124 percent federal poverty line to a 133 percent level.[3]

The Maryland legislatures approval of this bill earned praise from the President of Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, Vincent DeMarco, who said, "This will help many thousands of Marylanders get the health care they need and reduce the uncompensated care well all now pay for the hospitalization of the uninsured."

But some opponents argued that Maryland was too hasty in diving into this new federal expansion of health care and are concerned that it will cause financial harm in the future. Delegate Anthony O'Donnell is among these critics and, concerning the health care reform, said, "Many people in the country, obviously, are deeply divided on this issue. Many governments, many state governments, are not implementing this. Maryland is rushing headlong into it."[4]

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