Volunteers Tapped to Set Policy for Reaching Uninsured

    A group of volunteer health care experts will help the state launch a new program intended to reduce the number of state residents who lack health insurance.

    The nearly two dozen volunteers will serve on an advisory group that will guide the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange on the rollout of the state’s new “easy enrollment” program, due to launch in 2020.

    That program was created by legislation backed by the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative that the General Assembly passed and Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) signed earlier this year.

    Starting next year, Marylander residents who lack health insurance can check a box on their state tax returns indicating they don’t have coverage. The state will then investigate to see if that individual qualifies for federal tax credits that could make private coverage free or very low cost.

    The advisory group includes representatives from insurance carriers, state agencies, non-profit groups, health care advocates and experts in the field.

    “We value and appreciate the insight of our work group members,” said MHBE Executive Director Michele Eberle in a statement.

    “They are dedicated to improving the health of Marylanders through strengthening the Maryland Health Connection marketplace, and we thank them for their support.”

    Other states are said to be closely following the rollout of Maryland’s new program to determine if it is useful in reducing the number of persons without health insurance. Industry officials have said that getting more healthy people into the system helps reduce insurance premiums paid by employers and individuals. 

    Republican-backed legislation that was approved by Congress in 2017 reduced the Obama-era penalty for not having health coverage. Since then, the number of people — young healthy adults, in particular — purchasing coverage has dropped. 

    Click here to see members of the advisory group.

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    Bruce DePuyt
    Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.