Testimony Taken Wed. On Bill To Make A Health Insurance Subsidy Program Permanent

It’s scheduled to expire this year.

Annapolis, Md (KM) Testimony was heard on Wednesday by the Maryland Senate Finance Committee on a bill to make permanent a state program providing low income young adults with subsidies to purchase health insurance. The legislation would also set aside $20-million for the subsidies.

It was set up as a pilot program in 2021, but it will end this year unless the General Assembly makes  it permanent. “Thousands and tens of thousands of young people would be thrown off health care, or not be able to afford good health care if this bill doesn’t pass,”: says Vinnie DeMarco, President of Maryland Health Care for All. “And that would be unconsciousable and shocking at this time when everybody needs that health care.”

DeMarco says since the program began, more than 46,000 young people have been assisted, and that includes over 17,000 newly insured residents. “The fact of the matter is Maryland is the 5th best state in the nation. One of the reasons is measures like this which got young people enrolled. We need to keep in place,” he says.

A similar bill is being sponsored in the House of Delegates by Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr. That legislation had a hearing  on February 23rd before the House Health and Government Operations Committee. In addition to Kerr, Delegates Karen Simpson and Kris Fair are also sponsors of this measure.

DeMarco says right now in Maryland, only six percent of residents are without health insurance, and the goal should be to bring that percentage down to zero. “And because the more young people are on health care coverage, the less pressure on all of our premiums to go up. It’s a win-win situation,” he says.

And he says he’s confident this bill will pass. “Governor Wes Moore said that part of leaving no one behind is making sure we cover all the uninsured. So we think this will become law  and this program will become permanent,” DeMarco says.

By Kevin McManus