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Sarbanes Applauds Conditional Approval of Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange for Operation
State receives federal certification for Maryland Health Connection
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today applauded Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown’s announcement that Maryland is among the first six states in the U.S. to receive conditional approval to operate a state-based health insurance exchange in 2014. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has conditionally certified the Maryland Health Connection to operate for the first plan year in 2014, allowing the State of Maryland to expand access to quality, affordable health care to more Marylanders. Conditional certification as a state-based exchange indicates that Maryland will be operationally ready for open enrollment beginning in October 2013 and that the State continues to meet the requirements of the federal government.
"This is great news for Marylanders who will have access to high-quality, affordable health coverage through Maryland Health Connection," said Congressman Sarbanes, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees federal health policy. "Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Maryland has been a leader in developing this exchange and implementing the law. Maryland Health Connection will give uninsured individuals and small businesses access to the kind of group rates that are now available only to large employers and it will provide real relief to hundreds of thousands of individuals who have nowhere to turn.”
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will operate Maryland Health Connection as the online portal where individuals, families and small businesses will compare health insurance options, determine eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, and enroll in qualified health plans or public programs, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beginning in October 2013 (for coverage effective January 2014). Marylander residents and small businesses can sign up for updates from Maryland Health Connection by visiting www.MarylandHealthConnection.gov or texting “Connected” to 69302.
“Today’s approval by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is an important milestone for our State and for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange,” said Lt. Governor Brown, who leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s health care reform efforts. “Our progress has been the result of insurance producers, carriers, third-party administrators, health care providers, advocates, and consumers coming together to build a marketplace that will best meet the needs of individuals and small businesses throughout Maryland. Thanks to their hard work, as well as the efforts of Maryland’s Congressional Delegation and the General Assembly, we're leading the way in health care reform and will continue to maximize the Affordable Care Act in order to make Maryland the healthiest state in the nation.”
“Congratulations on reaching this significant milestone on the path to establishing an exchange for the citizens of Maryland,” said Secretary Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Conditional approval reflects the substantial progress the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has made and an expectation that MHBE will be ready to provide affordable, quality coverage for consumers and small businesses in 2014.”
It is estimated that as many as 150,000 individuals are expected to enroll in qualified health plans during the first year of operations of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, increasing to approximately 275,000 by 2020.
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