Testimony in favor for HB 909 Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act

Following is testimony given by Legislative Director Jeff Amoros. The statement was presented to the Health and Government Operations Committee on behalf of Dr. Wen on March 10, 2017.

Thank you Chair Pendergrass, Vice Chair Bromwell, and members of the committee.  My name is Jeff Amoros, and I am the Legislative Director for the Baltimore City Health Department. I am testifying on behalf of Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in support of House Bill 909.

We support HB 909 because the potential repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act poses major health consequences for residents of Baltimore and Maryland, and the effects of this repeal should be studied at a statewide-level. In particular, the bill includes several provisions that raise significant concerns.

Among other changes the bill eliminates subsidies in the ACA that help those with low incomes pay for insurance coverage, punishing people who make low wages. This will force people to choose between vital needs – food, shelter – and paying for health care.

It places a cap on Medicaid spending and limits the amount that states can pay per person, which will hurt those most in need – seniors, women, children, people with low incomes, individuals with disabilities.

The bill replaces the individual mandate with a continuous coverage provision, penalizing individuals who allow their coverage to lapse. Simultaneously, the bill removes penalties for companies that do not provide affordable insurance options. This shifts the cost burden away from businesses and insurance firms and places it instead on individuals, increasing the likelihood of coverage lapsing.

These are just a few of the provisions that cause concern – there are others that we have highlighted in our written testimony. The potential health impacts of these changes for residents throughout Maryland are staggering.

As a result, the creation of this commission is a necessity, to help determine the full scope of the effects of this bill and make appropriate recommendations to mitigate the consequences for our residents. We urge you to provide a favorable report for HB 909. Thank you.

Related Stories

Letter in Support for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding

TO:                Senator Chris Van Hollen
FROM:          Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner
RE:                Support for Adolescent Health Education

Dear Senator Van Hollen:

On July 6, 2017, the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) received notice from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) that the grant period for the U Choose evidence-based program would be shortened by two years, which will reduce the overall funding for this program by $3.5M over two years. This change will result in reduced access to evidence-based teen pregnancy curricula for thousands of students in Baltimore, creating a vacuum of critical health education for thousands of vulnerable teens.

Testimony in favor of SB 868 Prescribing and Dispensing Naloxone to Non-certificate Holders

Following is testimony given by Mark O’Brien, Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment. The statement was presented to the Finance Committee on behalf of Dr. Wen on March 16, 2017.

Testimony in favor for SB 669 Tobacco Products - Minimum Age and Civil Fines

Following is testimony given by Emilie Gilde, Director of Tobacco Use and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. The statement was presented to the Finance Committee on behalf of Dr. Wen on March 9, 2017.