As a member of the House Health and Government Operations committee, I have a “bird’s eye” view of the issues facing Marylander’s when it comes to health care. Obviously, a huge factor is rising cost of health insurance.
Barrack Obama said, “I believe people want health insurance and what is stopping them from having it is cost. It stands to reason if insurance was cheaper more people would buy it.” I agree with our former President, but unfortunately, cheaper prices are not what Obamacare has delivered. Health insurance for healthy working people especially in the individual market has skyrocketed.
I introduced HB 1509- MD Health Benefit Exchange - Individual Exchange - Copper Plans to Lower Rates. This bill proposes an additional health insurance option, mainly geared to healthy people who otherwise would opt to forgo health insurance due to the skyrocketing cost on the individual market.
There are an estimated 174,000 uninsured people in Maryland who are working but make too much for Obamacare subsidies. A family of four in the individual market which has the current Gold Plan pays over $22,000 yearly premiums. The same family would pay over $15,000 for a Bronze plan. This bill will create another option for healthy families that we are calling the "Copper Plan.” Monthly premiums for the Gold Plan would currently be 84% more than the Copper Plan and the Bronze Plan would be 25% more than the Copper Plan. The Copper Plan would have a higher deductible, but still provide the 10 essential health benefits as defined by the ACA.
The Copper Plan:
- Will cover the federally mandated 10 Essential Benefits.
- Will have premiums are much less than the Gold, Silver or Bronze plans because the deductible is higher and the plan is exempted from additional Maryland mandated benefits. These are benefits most people never use, but get stuck paying for.
- Provides an insurance option that would be attractive to people who cannot afford the lowest cost Bronze plan.
- Will keep uninsured people out of the emergency room. Emergency room visits raise the cost of the healthcare system.
In 2017, Health Insurance on the individual market jumped 53% and is expected to increases another 40% this year. This bill is not the whole solution, but I believe that it is certainly an important step toward making sure people have a choice and can purchase insurance at an affordable price. We need a many-faceted approach to repair the health insurance markets, and this is a viable alternative to having a whole class of uninsured workers not have coverage. Here is an example of the monthly premiums for a family of 2 adults with 2 children.
HB 420- Higher Education – Financial Aid – In-State Students
This bill will grant illegal immigrants, or children of illegal immigrants eligibility to receive taxpayer dollars in student financial aid. Essentially, the pool of students applying for need-based scholarships will increase, all competing for a finite amount of financial aid, funded and provided by taxpayers. I voted against this.
HB 1461- Criminal Procedure – Immigration – Supporting All Families Everywhere (SAFE Act)
This is the new version of the sanctuary state bill. This bill encourages lawlessness by granting criminal or civil immunity to any state or local government official (Law Enforcement Officer) for refusing to provide information to the federal government or another state that will be used for certain purposes, such as verifying immigration status. It also prohibits the expenditure of state funds to be used in order to provide immigration status of individuals to the federal government. I voted against this.
HB 372- Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act
This bill establishes a “Maryland Metro Dedicated Fund Account” in the Transportation Trust Fund. The Transportation trust fund’s main funding source comes from the gas tax, paid largely by drivers in rural areas, such as ours. Already 59% of this fund goes to mass transit; this bill would require an additional $150,000,000 from the Fund Account to pay capital costs of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority annually. I voted against this.
Monday, March 19th is “Crossover day”, the legislative date by which bills must cross from the originating Chamber to the other side. This is typically a very busy day as each chamber hurries to pass bills favorably off the floor and to the other Chamber, in order to ensure its momentum. Bills that do not pass on time, must be referred to Rules Committees, where they could potentially languish with no further action.