Gov. Martin O'Malley announces his executive order at… (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara…)
The day after President Barack Obama signed the landmark health bill into law, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday a task force to oversee the implementation of federal changes, a move the governor said aims to make Maryland a national leader in the health care overhaul.
Now that congressional wrangling over health care has produced legislation, it's up to states to figure out how to put it in place.
O'Malley said the legislation builds on Maryland's efforts in recent years to expand coverage by adding thousands of parents and their children to the Medicaid rolls, offering assistance to small businesses to provide coverage to their employees and letting young adults stay on their parents' health care plans to age 25.
Reform would extend coverage to about 400,000 Marylanders, according to state estimates, although other groups say that figure could be higher.
The 12-member Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council includes heads of state agencies such as T. Eloise Foster, secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, and interim insurance commissioner Elizabeth P. Sammis, along with legislative appointees still to be named. It will be led by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and state Health amd Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers.
The group will submit a report to the governor by July 15, identifying the most critical state needs. By Jan. 1, 2011, the council will give the governor a more comprehensive plan. The council plans to meet with doctors, academics and interest groups to discuss how reforms should play out in Maryland.
While most federal reforms don't kick in until 2014, states may add people to the insurance rolls earlier. Colmers said the council will consider doing so, but added that budget constraints will play a role.
He said Maryland can save $1 billion over 10 years by adopting federal reforms, an estimate that takes into account the expenses of implementing them minus the expected state savings of having hundreds of thousands fewer uninsured residents.