12 More Days Until Sine Die

We are in the final stretch of the 2019 General Assembly session. It has been more "interesting" than some predicted. In our world, that is due in no small part to actions at the Federal level to undercut the ACA. Yes, it is still the law of the land, but it is under renewed threat as the next article shows.

Here in Annapolis, bills, some in their original form, and some with major amended changes, are making their way through the pipeline. You can keep up with the bills that have passed and are on their way to the Governor's desk  here. As of today, the majority of the  bills we supported are in good shape. And, this week, CHF provided testimony on two bills that were up for their first hearing in the House Government and Operations Committee (HGO).  
  • HB 1421 - Maryland Health Benefit Exchange - Functions and Outreach would authorize the MHBE to address the critical need to raise Marylanders' health literacy levels. It would do this by promoting outreach and education efforts. We made the case for the importance of acting on this issue in our testimony.
  • HB 1426 - Health Services Cost Review Commission - Duties and Reports - Revisions. The HSCRC is required to provide an annual report on Maryland's Total Cost of Care initiative. This bill expands those reporting requirements to align with CMS contract terms. We provided testimonyin support of this bill. In that, we raised the issue of incorporating stratified race and ethnicity data to address health disparities. This did not go anywhere, but we plan to discuss further after Session.

Save the Date

Monday, May 6th

As things resolve themselves we will continue to provide updates, and be sure to join us,  Monday, May 6 at noon for a webinar -  Wins, Losses & Opportunities: Consumer Perspectives on 2019 General Assembly. We will discuss what happened in the Session and explore the opportunities for future attention. Details and registration here.  
"This is NOT Business As Usual"

That is how Nicholas Bagley, writing In a health research services blog post, described the Department of Justice position as submitted to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Their memo was in response to the draconian approach in the Texas vs Azar case. In just two sentences, the DOJ stated their position that the entire ACA should be invalidated. Bagley's response was to suggest that the move is "a serious threat to the rule of law."
What's next? Well, this is complicated (didn't someone say that about health care reform?), but Maryland and multiple states, as well as the House of Representatives are now plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation. Their response to the DOJ is due on April 24. To learn more see:
And, on the other side of the aisle, on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled sweeping legislation  aimed at lowering costs, protecting preexisting conditions, shoring up the ACA, and expanding enrollment to millions more people.
News and Updates
  • Let's start with the good news - CMS approves Maryland's Adult Dental Waiver Program - Congratulations go to the 2018 sponsors of SB 284 and our advocacy colleagues, principally the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC). Thanks to their leadership, eligible adults between the ages of 21-64 will now be able to get dental benefits through Medicaid. Gulielma (Guli) Leonard Fager MPH, has been named the project director for the program. 
  • Also good news - A federal judge in D.C. ruled yesterday to block Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas, where more than 18,000 people have lost their health coverage since work requirements were instituted. The ruling could also affect six other states that have received permission from HHS to begin work requirements - and for seven more states waiting in line. Thankfully, Maryland is not one of them, and you can see the impact of Medicaid in Maryland on our website, Medicaid Supports Maryland, and download our Medicaid 101 briefing.
  • The ACA Nine Years Later - just last week we celebrated the ninth anniversary of the ACA. This week, thanks to the Commonwealth Fund, let's see where we stand.
  • CMS released its 2019 Enrollment Report - which includes data for the 39 states that partner with the federal government and the 12 states that operate their own exchanges. (We would note that they list the District of Columbia as a state, which may come as a surprise to the city's residents.) For a counter view of the "success of the enrollment outcomes" see a report from ACASignups.net.
  • Also from the Commonwealth FundView lawmakers' health bills and where they fall on the "Medicare for All" continuum, ranging from a mix of private and publicly funded health insurance to public coverage only.
  • Abolishing Private Insurance - that's what some of the "Medicare for All" plans propose. The New York Times examines just how disruptive this could be to the economy, jobs, and the cost of health care.  
  • The Coverage Gap: Nationally, 2.5 million poor uninsured adults fall into the "coverage gap" that results from state decisions not to expand Medicaid. They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be eligible for ACA Marketplace premium tax credits. The Kaiser Family Foundation takes a look.
  • The Maryland Department of Health - has tapped former Queen Anne's County administrator Greg Todd, to be deputy secretary of Operations. His first large-scale project will be to lead the department's Facilities Master Plan.
Upcoming Events
  • Friday, March 29 - Join the Institute for Women's Policy Research and UC Berkeley for the webinar Work Supports for Reducing Maternal Mortality: The Role of Paid Family and Medical Leave, the first of a three-part webinar series focused on work supports and health. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Meetings for the state's Affordability and State Benchmark Plan workgroups are open to the public, and you can voice your opinion during the public comment period. You can read more about the workgroups here.  
    • Affordability Meetings:
      • April 5: 10AM-1PM, 100 Community Place, First Floor Conference Room Side A, Crownsville, MD 21032
      • April 19: 10AM-1PM, 100 Community Place, First Floor Conference Room Side A, Crownsville, MD 21032
      • May 3: 10AM-1PM, 100 Community Place, First Floor Conference Room Side B, Crownsville, MD 21032
    • State Benchmark Plan Meetings:
      • April 5: 10AM-1PM, 100 Community Place, First Floor Conference Room, Side A, Crownsville, MD 21032
      • April 12: 10AM-1PM, MHBE Office's, 750 East Pratt Street, 6 th Floor Training Room, Baltimore MD 21202
  • Monday, April 8 - Sine Die, at midnight - get ready to celebrate!
  • Thursday, April 11 - Standing Advisory Committee, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, 2:00 - 4:00 PM, 100 Community Place Crownsville MD 21032 First Floor Conference Rooms, Side B 
  • Thursday, April 25 - Maryland Medicaid Advisory Committee, 1:00 - 3:00 PM, Maryland Department of Health, 201 W. Preston Street, Lobby Conference Room L-3 Baltimore, Maryland 21201
  • Don't forget to put May 6 at noon on your calendar for our post GA Session webinar! Info?  Find it here. 
April Showers Bring May Flowers!

Spring is slowly emerging. But before you put away those winter clothes and pull out your Spring and Summer wardrobe, why don't you take time to make a donation to Consumer Health First. Whether it is $10 or $10,000, your gift WILL make a difference!

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