Big Issues: Maryland’s Health Care Exchange

With the rollout of Maryland’s Health Exchange proving to be as bumpy as the brick roads in downtown Annapolis, we thought our readers might find it helpful review the legislation and votes that authorized Obamacare in Maryland.

In 2013, House Bill 228 – Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013, completed the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland by expanding Medicaid eligibility (something that could potentially cripple Maryland’s budget in years to come) and dedicating a funding source for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. As with its predecessor in 2013, this bill had overwhelming opposition from the House Republican Caucus.

In 2012, House Bill 443 – Maryland Health Benefits Exchange Act of 2012, was the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s first pass in their frenzied rush to be the first state to implement Obamacare in Maryland. It expanded the operating structure of the Health Benefit Exchange, established the framework for the (now postponed) Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange, and established the navigator programs. House Republicans vigorously opposed this legislation within the committee and on the House floor.

In 2011, House Republicans successfully amended House Bill 166 – Maryland Health Benefit Act, to temporarily delay the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland and return the issue of Obamacare to the General Assembly the following year for a full vote of the General Assembly. The bill’s title did not change during the amendment process, so it could easily be mistaken for an implementation bill when, in fact, it slowed the implementation and required the General Assembly to re-visit the issue the following year. As previously mentioned, our caucus members opposed those subsequent bills. Had our amendments not been adopted unelected government

bureaucrats would have had carte blanche authority to spend taxpayer money on the exchange without the structure of the exchange being given a full vote of the General Assembly.  Additionally, the legislation was amended by House Republicans to include language to protect the private market.

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