Department of Health & Mental Hygiene News Release
BALTIMORE (December 27, 2011) -- The Board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange today submitted to Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly a series of policy recommendations to support the successful operation of the Exchange in 2014 and beyond. Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange will provide a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase high quality, affordable health coverage. Because of subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, the Exchange will make health insurance accessible to hundreds of thousands of Marylanders.
“I thank the many Marylanders who actively participated in a collaborative process to develop these recommendations,” said Lt. Gov Anthony G. Brown, who championed legislation this year to establish the framework for Maryland's health benefit exchange, including the exchange board. “We are committed to using the tools of the Affordable Care Act to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care throughout Maryland.”
The report, required by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act, which passed in 2011 and authorized creation of the Exchange, includes a broad range of recommendations, including: how the Exchange should contract with insurance plans; how the exchange should offer insurance to small businesses and their employees; how the Navigator program should work; how to set rules to assure a broad pool of risk; how to finance the exchange; and how to educate and inform the public about new opportunities for health insurance.
“One at a time, we are putting in place the building blocks for a successful Exchange in Maryland,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Chair of the Exchange Board. “These policy recommendations focus on what it will take for the Exchange to work well in Maryland.”
The Board worked with a broad range of experts and stakeholders to develop the report, including four advisory committees. The advisory committees included stakeholders from the health insurance industry, health care providers and associations; community members, advocates, and community-based organizations; academia; business owners; unions; local government officials; and consultants. In total, 66 Marylanders served on these committees. In addition, consultants were hired to conduct analyses and develop options for topics identified by the authorizing legislation.
The advisory committees met a combined total of 22 times between September and November 2011. The consultants attended and presented at the committee meetings to engage the advisory committees and the public. Each advisory committee provided the Board with a report summarizing its comments on the assigned consultant studies. The reports were made available to the public on the Exchange’s website, and additional public comment was accepted both through written and oral testimony.
“This extraordinary public process has made the Board’s recommendations stronger,” said Rebecca Pearce, the executive director of the Exchange. “Our goal is to build on a strong foundation to launch a successful exchange in Maryland.”
The full report can be found at http://spdev.dhmh.md.gov:21115/healthreform/exchange/SitePages/reports.aspx.
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