Governor Martin O'Malley today signed into law legislation that will allow Marylanders who attempted to use the Maryland Health Connection website to purchase health coverage, but were unable to enroll because of technical problems, to obtain temporary coverage in the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP).
The legislation, proposed by Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown earlier this month, is one of several steps the Administration has taken to help as many Marylanders as possible enroll in health coverage, and to help Marylanders adversely affected by the technological problems with the website. In addition to enactment of the MHIP emergency legislation, the Administration worked with the four private insurance carriers that offer plans on the exchange to offer retroactive coverage back to January 1 for individuals who had difficulties signing up through the website late last year. More than 1,300 households registered for the retroactive option.
"Our focus everyday is on getting as many Marylanders as possible enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage byMarch 31. We urged insurance carriers to make retroactive coverage available back to January 1, and more than 1,300 additional families are on the path to enrolling. And now, thanks to the quick action of the General Assembly, Marylanders who attempted to enroll in the exchange -- and who, through no fault of their own, are without insurance -- now have a bridge to care," said Governor O'Malley.
"Today we are taking action to help bridge-eligible Marylanders who need retroactive coverage," said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. "While we had some challenges in the initial launch, our exchange is open for business and I encourage Marylanders to visit the website or connect with one of the many navigators to sign up for quality affordable health care before the end of open enrollment on March 31st. I want to thank Chairmen Middleton and Hammen for working with us to establish this important safety net for Maryland families."
MHIP is Maryland's high risk insurance pool. Under the new law, MHIP coverage will be available for a temporary period of time to Marylanders who were eligible for coverage through Maryland Health Connection but attempted and were unable to enroll due to technical problems.
These "bridge eligible" individuals will also be provided assistance in purchasing coverage through Maryland Health Connection successfully.The Administration anticipates that up to several hundred individuals may take advantage of this new option.
Under the leadership of Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland Health Connection officials and staff have worked diligently to fix problems with the website, and the user experience has substantially improved. As we continue to see steady enrollments through the website, the IT team continues to work to address remaining problems. Through January 25, 26,832 Marylanders have chosen to enroll in private health plans through Maryland Health Connection. In addition, 95,318 Marylanders signed up through the Primary Adult Care (PAC) program were automatically converted to Medicaid coverage effective on January 1, 2014, and now have full Medicaid coverage. As of January 28, an additional 42,302 individuals were newly enrolled in Medicaid effective January 1.
Open enrollment continues through March 31, 2014.