U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today joined Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown to announce the launch of HealthReform.Maryland.gov, a new website designed to provide information about what health care reform means to Maryland residents and small businesses. The new online resource was launched to mark the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law by President Obama. Senator Mikulski is a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which passed the health care reform legislation.
"Thanks to health care reform, quality and affordable care is becoming a reality for families across Maryland," Senator Mikulski said. "I'm so proud of what we accomplished. We saved and strengthened Medicare and closed the prescription drug donut hole. With new consumer protections, families can choose which primary care doctor is right for them, and which pediatrician is right for their children. Young adults are now covered on their parents insurance until they're 26. We ended the punitive practices of insurance companies so you can't be denied access to care due to a preexisting condition. And because of health care reform, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition."
The main portion of the website, "Health Care Reform & Me," is broken down into three categories, families and individuals, seniors, and small businesses, in order to provide straightforward access to the information most relevant to each user. Within each category, visitors can find a list of provisions and benefits already provided or that will soon be available as a result of health care reform. Additionally, each section provides resources to help Marylanders who are looking for insurance options available today through State and Federal programs.
"Thanks to health care reform, all Marylanders will have access to affordable, quality health insurance," Senator Cardin said. "Our focus now must be on ensuring that Marylanders have the information they need about what benefits are available to them so they can make informed choices about their coverage. This website is a great resource because it will provide important information to individuals and businesses so they can make decisions about their health care needs."
"When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act two years ago today, Governor O'Malley and I began moving forward immediately to implement reform in order to maximize its benefits for Maryland families, seniors and small businesses," said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, Co-Chair of the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council. "Many benefits are already in place, and many more will become available through Maryland's Health Benefit Exchange. With HealthReform.Maryland.gov, we can provide clear information to help Marylanders learn what health reform means for them and how they can take advantage of it. The site is another important tool in our ongoing efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care for all Marylanders."
Additional sections of the site include "What is Health Care Reform," which provides basic background information about the Affordable Care Act as well as a timeline for when changes take effect, and "Maryland Moving Forward," which provides updates on the State's work to implement the ACA and details about the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council. Marylanders can also stay up-to-date on health care reform by signing up for email updates or following the Office of Health Care Reform on Twitter (@MDHealthReform).
"HealthReform.Maryland.gov is designed to be a straightforward, easy to use resource that explains what health care reform means for Marylanders," said Carolyn Quattrocki, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform. "Visitors can also get updates on our progress and see how Marylanders are benefiting today, including 51,868 young adults in Maryland who have gained coverage by staying on their parents' health insurance plan and 52,243 Maryland seniors in the Medicare Part D 'donut hole' who are receiving automatic discounts on their prescriptions." "This website is a great source of information on health reform in Maryland," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "If you have questions, the website will have answers."
"This new website will be of great help to consumers seeking to understand their health care options. It is another example of the great job which the O'Malley-Brown Administration is doing to fully implement the two year old Affordable Care Act here in Maryland," said Vincent DeMarco, President, Maryland Health Care For All! Coalition.
Maryland is recognized as a national leader in ACA implementation. The State has taken significant steps to establish Maryland's Health Benefit Exchange, a one-stop competitive marketplace that will make qualified health plans available to qualified employers and individuals, including those with pre-existing medical conditions. HealthReform.Maryland.gov will keep Marylanders posted on the progress of the Health Benefit Exchange, which under the ACA must become operational in fall, 2013 for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.