Health Insurance Down Payment Program Being Debated By Legislators

It would assist uninsured Marylanders in getting coverage.


Annapolis, Md (KM). Legislation to establish a Health Insurance Down Payment program is being considered this year by the Maryland General Assembly. If it passes, persons who are uninsured could avoid the tax penalty by signing up for coverage and keeping it through the end of the year.

“It would incentive over 130.000 Marylanders to get the health care they need and that will keep premiums down for everybody,” says Vinny DeMarco, the President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative.

He says a similar plan was passed last year by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor. But that was only temporary and a more permanent solution needs to be put in place.

If the legislation passes, DeMarco says financial assistance will be provided to Marylanders who need help in paying for coverage. “The fact of the matter is the more people who are insured, the lower premiums are going to be for all of us,” he says.

DeMarco says the bill has 70 co-sponsors, and a large number of organizations have come out in support of the measure, including the MedChi, the Maryland Medical Society, The Maryland Hospital Association, the American Heart Association, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the NAACP.  One of those co-sponsors is Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr.

“We think this is an idea which has got to happen in Maryland,” he says. “And if we do it right in Maryland, it can be a model for the whole country.”

The bill is sponsored by Senator Brian Feldman (Montgomery County)   in the State Senate, and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk   (Prince George’s County)  in the House.

“We’re cautiously optimistic. You never know until you get the votes on the floor,” said DeMarco, when asked how he assessed the bill’s chances of passage. “Maryland has always been a leader in health care coverage, and I think we can do that again.”


By Kevin McManus