Maryland Plan To Provide Coordinated Care For Uninsured Delayed

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The launchof a Howard County, Md., health access program has been delayed for threemonths to Oct. 1 because legislation is needed to exempt the program from stateinsurance regulations, the Baltimore Sun reports (Carson, Baltimore Sun,1/18). The Healthy Howard program aims to provide affordable and coordinatedhealth care to uninsured residents who are not eligible for state and federalprograms. To be eligible for the county's program, individuals must have livedin the county for at least one year and must have been uninsured for a year (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report,10/18/07).

Howard County Health Officer Peter Beilenson said that the state must passlegislation to ensure that the program would not be required to havemultimillion-dollar reserve funds that insurance companies are required tohave. Howard County officials say that the program isnot insurance, and the legislation -- which will be worded to describe theHealthy Howard program but could be replicated by other local jurisdictions --would allow the program to operate without following the state regulation.Beilenson said, "There's no reason to think it's controversial. It's tomake sure there's no question the insurance administration won't have a problemwith us when it starts."

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Karen Barrow, a spokesperson for state insurance Commissioner Ralph Tyler,said, "We are continuing to gather information to make a finaldetermination as to whether this program is insurance."

The bill will need to be approved by the state General Assembly and Gov. MartinO'Malley (D). If approved, the law would take effect June 1. Enrollment in theprogram would begin July 1, with coverage for beneficiaries beginning Oct. 1 (Baltimore Sun,1/18).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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