Protecting the Affordable Care Act

Health Insurance Down Payment Proposal

GOAL:  Passage of the Health Insurance Down Payment Proposal.  This proposal would replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA’s) individual mandate eliminated in the recent federal tax reform legislation with a Maryland health insurance down payment plan. The federal individual mandate was a program that charged fines for individuals if they were not enrolled in a qualified health insurance plan.  The Health Insurance Down Payment Proposal would allow a tax payer who is faced with a fine for not having qualifying coverage at tax time to have the option for this fine to go toward their health insurance in the Maryland Health Exchange.  The work of UULM-MD will be in conjunction with Health Care for All and Consumer Health First as we are members of these coalitions.  Senator Brian Feldman and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk are the lead sponsors.

WHY:  This is Maryland’s innovative response to federal attempts to roll back the ACA by ending the enforcement of the ACA’s individual mandate.  This proposed legislation would replace the expiring federal mandate with down payments to help the uninsured get coverage while lowering costs of individuals that buy their own insurance.  Doing this would increase the number of younger and healthier people in the insurance pool and allow for them to obtain federal subsidies if their jobs do not provide insurance or their incomes are not adequate to purchase insurance.

Maryland decreased the number of uninsured to 6.6% in 2015 from 11.3% after the ACA was implemented in 2013.  However, there are still thousands of Marylanders eligible for the ACA who have not been enrolled.  It is necessary to maintain those now covered by the ACA and increase the numbers.   If this legislation is not passed, this will not be feasible as rates will increase and it will be harder to maintain and expand those insured.

Drug Affordability

UULM-MD also supported the proposed Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative to help make all drugs, including brand name and specialty drugs more affordable.

Report of 2018 Session

Protecting the Affordable Care Act - House Bill 1167 and Senate Bill 1011 were introduced in an effort to replace the expiring federal mandate with a state mandate for residents to purchase health insurance or face a fine that could be used as down payments to help the uninsured get coverage. While UULM-MD supported these bills, the General Assembly came to agreement on other measures SB 387/HB 1782) to stabilize the individual insurance market for one year only, imposing a premium tax on insurers in place of the repealed federal provider fee and using that money to stabilize premiums. The state’s Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission will also study and make recommendations for individual and group health insurance market stability, including a possible state mandate like the one we supported.

Drug Prices – Senate Bill 1023/House Bill 1194 would have created a Prescription Drug Cost Review Commission to determine how to make prescription drugs more affordable and report to the General Assembly with recommendations on how entities within the prescription drug supply chain can improve access to affordable prescription drugs by State residents. The House Bill passed the House but it failed to reach a final vote of approval in the Senate.