Maryland’s Senators and Congressmen Send Bipartisan Letter to Treasury and HHS in Support of State Waiver to Significantly Reduce Health Insurance Costs in Maryland

May 18, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Maryland’s bipartisan congressional delegation has written a joint letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in support of Maryland’s waiver for a state reinsurance program, which was authorized by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year. Reinsurance is a reimbursement system that protects insurers from very high claims by having a third party (the federal or state government) pay part of the insurance company’s claims once they pass a certain amount.

 

“The Governor and both Democratic and Republican leaders strongly support this effort to address premium costs and access to affordable healthcare in our state. The Maryland Insurance Administration estimates that the State Reinsurance Program would lower premium rates market-wide by as much as 30 percent and would lead to a reduction in federal payments of advance premium tax credits,” the Maryland lawmakers wrote in their letter.

 

The letter to Treasury and HHS was signed by the full federal delegation, including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., John K. Delaney, Anthony G. Brown and Jamie Raskin.

 

Earlier in May, the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) released the 2019 proposed rates for silver level health plans sold on the individual market. CareFirst has requested a premium rate increase of 18.5 percent for their HMO plans and a premium rate increase of 91.4 percent for their PPO plans. Kaiser Permanente requested a premium rate increase of 37.4 percent. These rates do not reflect the possibility of a state reinsurance program. MIA estimates that a state reinsurance program could have a premium reduction impact of 30 percent, which could result in 2019 rates being lower than 2018 rates.

 

The full letter follows and can be found at this link.

 

 

May 17, 2018

 

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin                  The Honorable Alex Azar

Secretary of the Treasury                             Secretary of Health and Human Services

Department of the Treasury                        Department of Health and Human Services

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW   200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20220                                 Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Azar,

 

We write to request that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant Maryland’s application for a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver as soon as possible. We urge that this process include careful and thorough consideration of key stakeholder’s input such as the Maryland Medical Society.

 

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly voted to establish a state-based reinsurance program, the Maryland State Reinsurance Program. The Governor and both Democratic and Republican leaders strongly support this effort to address premium costs and access to affordable healthcare in our state. The Maryland Insurance Administration estimates that the State Reinsurance Program would lower premium rates market-wide by as much as 30 percent and would lead to a reduction in federal payments of advance premium tax credits. By contrast, without federal approval, rates for many individual market plans could increase substantially.

 

The matter is urgent because the Maryland Insurance Administration must finalize the approval of the individual market rates by September 1, 2018. Accordingly, on behalf of our constituents, we urge you to complete your consideration of Maryland’s waiver application as soon as possible.

 

    Sincerely,

 

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