Access to quality, affordable health coverage is a major policy issue for nonprofits. Even though the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured Marylanders, six percent of Marylanders remain uninsured. The cost of insurance is a struggle for others. Affordability is a problem for small employers and their employees. These include many Maryland nonprofit organizations and many clients and customers of nonprofit services.
We at Maryland Health Care for All! thank Maryland Nonprofits for their advocacy on behalf of nonprofits like ours and for progress toward quality, affordable health care for all Marylanders. Together we have made tremendous advances in Maryland through innovative programs like the Prescription Drug Affordability Board and Easy Enrollment program. But, there is still more we need to do.
Help for Small Employers to Afford Coverage for their Workers.
Maryland’s small nonprofits and businesses are less likely to offer health coverage than large employers. Only 37% of our small employers offer health coverage to their employees compared to 95% of large employers. Cost is a major factor. That is why this past legislative session, we advocated for a new state subsidy program to help more small employers be able to afford to offer health coverage to their employees.
As a result, this summer the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will convene a diverse workgroup of stakeholders to make recommendations to the legislature about how this program would work. The enacted legislation states that it is the General Assembly’s intention that the Governor shall allocate funding for such a program in the fiscal year beginning July 2023.
In addition to creating a state subsidy program for small employers, we must keep making progress to ensure that ALL Marylanders can access the health care they need. That is why we are encouraging organizations to sign on to the Health Care for All Resolution, which is described in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun by Maryland Health Care for All! president, Vincent DeMarco.
Subsidies for small businesses and individuals. One plank of our plan is to create state-based small employer and individual subsidy programs. We know subsidy programs work, one pilot made it easier for young adults to purchase private insurance through the Maryland Health Connection and resulted in almost 11,000 new enrollees.
Automatic Enrollment. A second plank is to automatically enroll all Marylanders eligible for free or very low-cost health care plans, outside of those who opt out. Over 180,000 uninsured Marylanders qualify for Medicaid or federal help to buy private health insurance from Maryland Health Connection but have not enrolled, and many do not know they are eligible. We need to make getting coverage as easy as possible for these Marylanders.
Immigration Status Should Not Be a Barrier to Health Care. The final plank is to remove immigration status as a barrier to health coverage for Marylanders who would otherwise be eligible to enroll in Medicaid or private health plans from Maryland Health Connection. Over 115,000 uninsured Marylanders, including children, are ineligible because of immigration status despite contributing millions of dollars in taxes every year.
Action To Care – How to Ensure That EVERY Marylander Has Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care. In order to enact these policies, we need to build a broad and diverse coalition. We urge organizations to join the over 90 coalition partners, including Maryland Nonprofits, that have already endorsed the Health Care for All Resolution by signing on at https://healthcareforall.com/resolution/.
Progress is never easy, but by joining together we can make Maryland a place where everyone has access to quality, affordable health care.