One would requires residents to pay a fine for not having health insurance.
Annapolis, Md (KM) A bill before the Maryland General Assembly would require residents who don’t have health insurance to pay a fine, but it’s expected to benefit them. Vinnie DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, says the fine would be used by residents to help them pay for health care.
On the federal level, the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act requires Americans to have health insurance, or they would be penalized on their taxes. The individual mandate will no longer be enforced at the federal level beginning in 2020.
DeMarco acknowledges the individual mandate was one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act, with opponents calling it a tax. “But we’re doing it in a way that that money won’t just go into the state coffers unless you want it to. That money will be used to insure you. So that’s an incentive to get people insured,:” he says.
He says there is a lot of support for this bill. “The fact of the matter is that Marylanders support having something like this. And Marylanders know that it’s the best way to make sure everyone’s premiums don’t go up too high is by getting everybody engaged,” says DeMarco.
A second bill would require the Maryland Department of Health to provide basic health program coverage for low income residents.
“And those are our two bills, and we believe it will make the Affordable Care Act work better in Maryland,” he says.
Republicans in Congress tried but failed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But President Trump has been whittling away at the law, and DeMarco says that’s had an impact on health insurance costs. “Over the last few years, the premiums in the individual market have been going up by 10% to 15%. Under Trump, they’ve gone up 50%. It’s the bad Trump affect on Maryland and we need to protect Maryland from this bad Trump affect, and that’s what these bills will do,” he says.
DeMarco also says these two bills have a lot of support. He says at 79 delegates are on board, along with 22 senators.
A hearing was held on both bills on Wednesday in the State Senate. A hearing in the House of Delegates is scheduled for Thursday.
By Kevin McManus