Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Health Care Reform Council
Council to ensure efficiency in implementing health care expansion, cost control measures
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, DHMH Secretary John M. Colmers to Co-chair Council
ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 24, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley unveiled an Executive Order today outside the Emergency Room at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where the Governor outlined ways in which federal health care reform, signed by President Obama yesterday, will impact families in Maryland. The Executive Order creates the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council to advise the administration on policies and procedures to implement the recent and future federal health care reform legislation as efficiently and effectively as possible. As states assume the critical role of implementing multiple aspects of health care reform, the Council will make policy recommendations and offer implementation strategies to keep Maryland among the leading states in expanding quality, affordable health care while reducing waste and controlling costs.
“Over the last three years, we’ve acted as One Maryland to expand access to quality, affordable health care to more than 160,000 Marylanders, 78,500 of which are children. These federal reforms will build on our progress,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Thanks to our Congressional delegation and the President Obama’s leadership, we will help even more families. The Health Care Reform Coordinating Council will immediately begin the work to ensure our State leads the nation in delivering even more health care to Maryland children and families.”
Maryland is already a national model for controlling health care costs under Maryland’s unique “all-payer” hospital rate setting system. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland has extended health care coverage to 161,000 Marylanders, 78,500 of which are children, under the Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act. The Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council will assist the executive and legislative branches of state government with the delivery of health care reforms from the federal level to the homes and businesses of Main Street Maryland.
“Because of President Obama's leadership, we have taken a giant step forward to improve the quality of health care and to control costs,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “States like Maryland will play a critical role in implementing health care reform and so our work is just beginning. I am honored that Governor O’Malley has asked me to lead this effort in Maryland alongside Secretary Colmers. I am confident that we will provide a national model for other states to follow as we continue to expand and improve our health care system in Maryland.”
“We in Maryland can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of reforming our health care system,” said John M. Colmers, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The creation of this council is an important first step to ensuring Maryland is a leader in developing the most efficient and effective implementation of health care reforms in the nation.”
In many ways, the reforms signed by President Obama yesterday build upon progress already made in Maryland over the last three years. Maryland law already allows young adults to remain on their families’ health plan until age 25. Federal reforms extend this to age 26. Governor O’Malley championed an innovative program called the Maryland Health Insurance Partnership in 2008, which partners state government with health insurers and small businesses to lower premiums and expand health care to more Marylanders. Federal reforms signed yesterday extend federal tax credits to small businesses to achieve this goal.
In addition, under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Maryland has strengthened the safety net for the hardest hit families by expanding Medicaid programs to cover families up to 116 percent of the poverty level. Federal reforms extend Medicaid to families up to 130 percent of federal poverty levels.
In 2008, Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown launched a highly successful public-private partnership that ensures no Maryland senior is forced to choose between putting food on the table and purchasing the prescription drugs they need. The federal legislation closes this so-called “donut hole” for all American seniors.
Finally, the O’Malley-Brown Administration, in addition to expanding dental benefits for low-income children and mental health services for returning veterans, has championed initiatives through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to promote wellness and prevention, thus reducing overall health care costs. The federal reforms make similar investments in long-term care, wellness programs, and prevention initiatives.