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Q&A on Maryland and health care reform

Monday - 1/28/2013, 4:36pm  ET

By BRIAN WITTE
Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Here are some details about Maryland's health benefit exchange as President Barack Obama's health overhaul takes effect and the first exchange starts operating later this year:

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Q: How many people are uninsured in Maryland and how many of those are projected to get insurance under the exchange?

A: Maryland has about 740,000 uninsured residents. The state estimates 150,000 of those individuals are expected to enroll in qualified health plans and 100,000 in Medicaid during the first year.

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Q: How many people will be served by the state's decision to expand Medicaid?

A: Maryland estimates that 184,000 state residents will be newly qualified for Medicaid. The state expects about 100,000 of them to enroll in the first year.

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Q: How many small businesses are likely to take advantage of the health insurance offered in the Maryland state exchange?

A: The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange estimates 1,000 small businesses will take part, accounting for about 8,000 employees.

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Q: How is the exchange going to be set up in Maryland and which agency will be responsible for overseeing it?

A: The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is a public corporation and independent unit of the state government. The exchange has a nine-member Board of Trustees that includes the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland insurance commissioner and executive director of the Maryland Health Care Commission. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is responsible for the administration of the Maryland Health Connection, the name of Maryland's state-based health insurance exchange.

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Q: How far along is Maryland in setting up an exchange and will it be ready to start enrolling people by the October deadline?

A: Maryland approved legislation in 2011 and 2012 to create the policy and operational framework with stakeholders across the state. Legislation this year will address the financial sustainability of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in 2015 and beyond. The state expects Maryland Health Connection to begin enrolling people for coverage in October 2013.

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Q: How much money has Maryland received so far from the federal government to do the initial work in setting up the exchange?

A: Maryland has received a total of $157.5 million in federal grants to support the implementation of the state's exchange. The state received a $123 million grant in August 2012 for continued implementation of the eligibility and enrollment system, consumer assistance, education and outreach, operations and administration. Maryland also has received $34.4 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development and implementation.

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Q: How will residents in Maryland access the exchange and what kind of customer support will be offered?

A: Residents and small businesses in Maryland will access the online marketplace through a single online entry point: www.MarylandHealthConnection.gov. Residents will be able to explore and compare health coverage options. They also will be able to determine their eligibility for subsidies of insurance affordability programs such as Medicaid or Maryland's Children's Health Insurance Program and enroll in a health plan that best meets their needs. Maryland also will have a statewide network of people to help provide education and information as well as application and enrollment assistance to those who need it. Maryland Health Connection will open a call center in July 2013 in advance of open enrollment to help residents and small business by providing translation services, help for the disabled and customer service.

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Q: How many people will the Maryland exchange employ?

A: The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange currently employees 14 people. Its staff is expected to grow to about 70 by 2014 once it is fully operational.

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Source: Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.


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