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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Maryland Congressional Delegation Urges Trump Administration to Help Lower Health Insurance Costs for Marylanders

Members Ask Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and HHS Secretary Azar to Support Waiver for Maryland Reinsurance Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 17, 2018
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Maryland’s bipartisan congressional delegation today sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in support of Maryland’s waiver for a state reinsurance program, which was authorized by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year. Reinsurance is a reimbursement system that protects insurers from high claims by having the federal or state government pay part of the insurance company’s claims once they pass a certain amount.

“The Governor and both Democratic and Republican leaders strongly support this effort to address premium costs and access to affordable healthcare in our state. The Maryland Insurance Administration estimates that the State Reinsurance Program would lower premium rates market-wide by as much as 30 percent and would lead to a reduction in federal payments of advance premium tax credits,” the Maryland lawmakers wrote.

The letter to Treasury and HHS was signed by the full federal delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., John K. Delaney, Anthony G. Brown and Jamie Raskin.

Earlier this month, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) released the 2019 proposed rates for silver-level health plans sold on the individual market. CareFirst has requested a premium rate increase of 18.5 percent for its HMO plans and a premium rate increase of 91.4 percent for its PPO plans. Kaiser Permanente requested a premium rate increase of 37.4 percent. These rates do not reflect the possibility of a state reinsurance program. MIA estimates that a state reinsurance program could have a premium reduction impact of 30 percent, which would lower 2019 rates below 2018 rates.

See below for the full letter.

* * *

May 17, 2018

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220

The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Azar,

We write to request that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant Maryland’s application for a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver as soon as possible. We urge that this process include careful and thorough consideration of key stakeholder’s input such as the Maryland Medical Society.

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly voted to establish a state-based reinsurance program, the Maryland State Reinsurance Program. The Governor and both Democratic and Republican leaders strongly support this effort to address premium costs and access to affordable healthcare in our state. The Maryland Insurance Administration estimates that the State Reinsurance Program would lower premium rates market-wide by as much as 30 percent and would lead to a reduction in federal payments of advance premium tax credits. By contrast, without federal approval, rates for many individual market plans could increase substantially.

The matter is urgent because the Maryland Insurance Administration must finalize the approval of the individual market rates by September 1, 2018. Accordingly, on behalf of our constituents, we urge you to complete your consideration of Maryland’s waiver application as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

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