2018 Session: The ACA and Maryland

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently celebrated its eighth anniversary. Over the past years, the legislation has made health insurance affordable for millions of Americans of all ages. Furthermore, ACA has also put an end to decades of discrimination faced by people with pre-existing conditions. Even with these and numerous other benefits, Republicans have continued to attempt to repeal ACA. If undone, Maryland faces higher consequences than the majority of other states.

The state’s premiums are expected to rise anywhere between 30 and 50 percent within the next year if no action is taken. Likewise, only a small amount of the state’s residents receive coverage on the individual exchange. The majority of Maryland’s resident rely on their employer or a government-funded program, such as Medicare or Medicaid, to receive coverage. If Maryland’s individual marketplace fails, it will result in lasting impacts on the state.

Currently, Maryland holds a waiver that allows the state to receive higher Medicare reimbursements. However, the state can only maintain this if it complies with limits regarding the increase in health spending. It has proven to remain successful, even though the transition from the O’Malley administration to the Hogan administration. However, now this valuable waiver is at risk.

If the Maryland residents who receive coverage through the individual exchange become uninsured, the state is less likely to be able to meet its set targets. This will result in the loss of the Medicare waiver and Maryland will face a $2 billion annual loss to the state’s health-care system.  

According to The Urban Institute, Maryland could face 18 percent higher premiums if Trump and his administration end federally mandated health insurance. Maryland Democrats have begun to prepare for the effects if the Trump administration is successful and proposed an individual mandate to ensure that as many Marylander’s as possible become insured.

The individual mandate would have uninsured Marylanders pay for healthcare plans instead of paying the fee for their uninsurance. As proposed, the current 200,000 uninsured Marylanders will get a form that permits them to invest in an insurance plan. This payment would be the greater of either 2.5 percent of the resident’s income or $696 and would serve as a “health-care down payment”

This individual mandate would benefit all Marylanders. The state’s residents who aren’t currently uninsured could still benefit from lower premiums. Unsurprisingly, Maryland residents maintain an overwhelmingly positive opinion of this plan. According to a survey conducted by OpinionWorks and sponsored by the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, 60 percent of those surveyed said they were in favor of the mandate. In comparison, only 20 percent indicated that they weren’t. The support is undeniable and leads to the conclusion that Maryland candidates who vocalize their support of similar legislation will have a notable advantage compared to those who don’t.   

It’s important to note that unlike the rest of the Republican Party, Governor Hogan never supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, Gov. Hogan continues to maintain the growth of Maryland’s Medicaid and has even written to the Trump administration to show his support of keeping ACA intact. However, this, unfortunately, hasn’t stopped Trump and his administration from constantly trying to discontinue ACA and leave numerous Americans uninsured.