Maryland gets $27 million to build insurance exhange
The state of Maryland won a $27.7 million grant Friday from the Obama administration to set up its health exchange, the marketplace where the uninsured will go to buy coverage in 2014.
The funds are part of a $185 million award from the Department of Health and Human Services to 13 states and Washington for the exchanges.
The agency also laid out three proposed rules on enrolling consumers and small businesses in plans, a tax credit for individuals and families and Medicaid eligibility.
In Maryland, which has been moving aggressively to set up its exchange through legislation and policy development, officials said the money will be used to hire personnel or continue planning for the new marketplace.
“This grant is further recognition of Maryland’s national leadership in implementing health care reform in order to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, co-chair of the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, tasked with overseeing the federal health care reform effort in Maryland. “The Exchange will provide individuals and small businesses with a competitive marketplace offering affordable health insurance options that meet their needs.”
Brown said the federal money means state dollars will not be needed for the exchange. In all, Maryland has received $34.4 million in federal funds.
Analysts expect health care reform to save the state $850 million and halve the number of uninsured by 2020, though the federal law is being challenged in court as unconstitutional for requiring individuals to buy insurance. The matter is expected to be settled by the Supreme Court, though states including Maryland are moving ahead with implementation.
“One step at a time, we are making progress towards a healthier Maryland,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and chair of the Exchange Board. “Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange will continue to engage with many partners to provide new access, affordability, and better health outcomes for Marylanders.”