Maryland Receives $27 Million Federal Grant to Help Establish Health Benefit Exchange
Grant Will Help State Move Forward With Hiring, Policy Development and Planning for Insurance Marketplace
ANNAPOLIS, Md (August 12, 2011) — Today, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announced that the State of Maryland has received a $27.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund the establishment of Maryland’s health benefit exchange, a transparent marketplace that will offer individuals and small employers high-quality, affordable private health plans that fit their needs at competitive prices.
“This grant is further recognition of Maryland’s national leadership in implementing health care reform in order to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “The Exchange will provide individuals and small businesses with a competitive marketplace offering affordable health insurance options that meet their needs. Because we have taken smart and aggressive steps forward to establish our exchange, Maryland has received these critical dollars that will ensure State funds are not needed to get the Exchange ready and operational by the January 1, 2014 federal deadline.”
The grant was made possible, in part, by a statute establishing the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange that Governor O’Malley signed into law earlier this year. Lt. Governor Brown led the Administration’s efforts in successful passage of the legislation.
Maryland was one of 16 states to be awarded an Exchange Establishment grant. To date, Maryland has received $34.4 million from HHS to plan and build the Exchange, including a $6.2 million innovator grant given to six states leading the way on reform implementation. Maryland is one of only three states with an operating Exchange Board of Directors.
“One step at a time, we are making progress towards a healthier Maryland,” said Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Chair of the Exchange Board Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. “Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange will continue to engage with many partners to provide new access, affordability, and better health outcomes for Marylanders.”
The Exchange will bring new transparency to the market so that consumers will be able to compare plans based on price and quality. By increasing transparency and competition among insurance companies, the Exchange will also help make health care more affordable.
The Exchange Establishment grant will help Maryland’s Exchange Board move forward with Exchange administration and operations, including hiring initial staff, and will advance policy development and detailed planning. The Level One Establishment Grant will result in data-driven and intensive policy analysis that will shape the technical and operational infrastructure of the Exchange. In addition, the activities performed with this funding will support the development of the information technology infrastructure for eligibility and enrollment in the exchanges. The IT platform will also have the flexibility to respond to forthcoming federal guidance and ongoing policymaking and input from Maryland stakeholders. More information about the grant is available at http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/exchanges05232011a.html.
As Co-Chair of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council and Maryland’s Health Quality and Cost Council, Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s health care portfolio. Under the leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have already expanded health coverage to over 280,000 Marylanders. According to research by the independent Hilltop Institute, implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will save Maryland an estimated $850 million and cut the number of Marylanders without health insurance in half by 2020.