Feldman co-chaired a state commission created last year to monitor federal changes to the health care law. He said the legislation is an innovative approach to help stabilize Maryland’s individual insurance market, after actions at the federal level threaten to disrupt it. Supporters say more than 200,000 uninsured Maryland residents could be affected. They also say the measure would help hold down rates to help those who buy insurance directly.
In Washington state, lawmakers are considering a measure requiring residents to ensure that they and any of their dependents maintain minimum essential health care coverage each month, unless they are exempted.
State Sen. Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat, said the plan would affect everyone who buys their insurance directly instead of through their employer in Maryland, because insurance rates will go through the roof once the federal changes take effect.
“We’re saying instead of just paying the penalty and being off the rolls, we’re going to take those dollars and deploy them in such a way as to use it as a down payment to allow you to make a decision to actually purchase health insurance,” said state Sen. Brian Feldman, a Democrat representing a district in Maryland’s most populous county.
But state Sen. Michael Hough, a Republican, said the proposal is a terrible idea and that he’s surprised to hear his colleagues propose it.
Supporters outlined the proposal Tuesday, a day before the Maryland legislative session begins, adding it could also work in other states to help keep insurance premiums from skyrocketing. The Maryland General Assembly is controlled by Democrats.
“If we don’t pass this bill, hundreds of thousands of working people who already have insurance will see their insurance premiums skyrocket,” Rosapepe said.