The General Assembly took major steps during the legislative session to prepare the state for anticipated changes at the federal level that could adversely impact Marylanders’ access to health coverage and care.
Consumer Health First (CHF)
took a lead role in supporting these efforts.
With repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) still under consideration in Washington, CHF worked on two main fronts: advocating for legislation to retain the advances made under this landmark law and collaborating with diverse stakeholders to oppose the multiple efforts to undermine it.
“The Affordable Care Act remains under serious threat at the federal level,” said CHF Executive Director Jeananne Sciabarra. “Taking meaningful steps in Annapolis to preserve key aspects of the ACA was a critical priority for Consumer Health First. We applaud the legislature for acknowledging the value of the ACA to their constituents and taking steps to limit the harm that could be done to them through repeal efforts.”
Maryland has seen significant gains in insurance coverage and greater access to care in addition to substantial cost savings under the ACA. These could be reversed if the law is repealed by Congress, or through regulatory or other steps. Maryland could also lose billions of dollars in federal funding for Medicaid.
CHF successfully advocated for state legislation to protect Marylanders from federal action, including:
Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act (SB571)
: This bill will establish the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission to monitor any federal changes to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare and the Maryland Children’s Health Program and make recommendations for state and local action to protect access to affordable health coverage.
Family Planning Services - Continuity of Care (HB1083)
: This bill directs $2.7 million in state funding to Planned Parenthood and other organizations by establishing a Family Planning Program at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This ensures that patients can continue to access these providers in the event that the federal government revokes funding under Title X, the national family planning program. This bill also ensures that Maryland will continue to fund health services provided to Medicaid recipients at Planned Parenthood should Congress make good on threats to “defund” the organization.
Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2017 (HB152) Provision
: Added at the request of Consumer Health First, this provision requires state officials to partner with a range of stakeholders on any changes to, or redesign of, the Medicaid program. The budget requirement means consumer advocates, healthcare providers and other experts will have a role should changes be proposed to Maryland’s Medicaid program in response to either federal or state policy or budget proposals.
Joint Resolution - The Protection of the Federal Affordable Care Act (SJ7/HJ9) expressed the General Assembly’s sharp opposition to repeal of the ACA.
“Maryland has been a leader in implementing the ACA, bringing security and better care to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people,” Sciabarra said. “In the face of efforts at the federal level to turn back the clock on access to high-quality, comprehensive and affordable health care, Maryland's General Assembly has taken significant steps that will enable our state to continue to advance the best interests of its residents. We are pleased that Governor Hogan allowed two key pieces of legislation (SB571 and HB1083) to become law, and we look forward to working with him, the legislature and all partners to ensure that the promise of the ACA is enjoyed by all Marylanders.”