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Maryland Families Encouraged To Enroll In New Health Care Initiatives

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

In an effort to spread the word about benefits made possible through Governor Martin O'Malley's Working Families and Small Business Coverage Act, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Secretary John M. Colmers today met with local government officials and members of the community.

"Maryland is making progress in its health care expansion efforts," Secretary Colmers said. "We are working with our local partners to spread the word that more working families and small businesses can now get the health care they need through Medical Assistance for Families and the Health Insurance Partnership."

Allegany County Health Officer Dr. Sue Raver introduced Secretary Colmers to Ms. Angel Brown who now has benefits through the Act and to Adrienne Summers, a small business owner who now has health care coverage through her small business.

"Affordable health insurance is a statewide problem that is a prominent issue in Allegany County and all of Western Maryland," Dr. Raver said. "Thanks to the hard work of Governor O'Malley and Secretary Colmers, Ms. Brown, staff at Adrienne's Flower Delights, and many others like them in this part of the state now have access to quality health care."

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Secretary Colmers presented Ms. Brown, a beneficiary through Medical Assistance for Families, with her Maryland Medical Assistance Card. Her daughter Beatrice accompanied Ms. Brown to the event. They live in Cumberland.

Ms. Summers, who owns Adrienne's Flower Delights in Jefferson, Frederick County, is a mother who has been able to secure coverage for herself and her two children through the Health Insurance Partnership.

The Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act is divided into two sections: Medical Assistance to Families, a Medicaid expansion that provides eligible parents with comprehensive health care; and the Health Insurance Partnership, designed to help lower the cost of health insurance for very small employers.

Medical Assistance to Families provides eligible parents or other family members of children with services that include doctors' visits, hospital stays and lower co-pays for prescription drugs. Parents with incomes up to about $20,500 for a family of three (116% of the federal poverty level) a year now qualify for health care; before they had only been eligible with incomes below about $6,000 a year.

The Health Insurance Partnership helps very small employers who have not been able to offer health insurance in the past to now provide health insurance to their employees. Eligible small businesses will be able to buy health insurance at about half the cost. The Health Insurance Partnership benefits are designed to reward individuals for efforts to improve their health.