April 25, 2013
The Obamacare critics were no doubt gleeful this week when CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield proposed average rate increases of 25 percent for its individual HMO customers next year, when it will be required to follow the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But before we give in to conservatives' "I-told-you-so" moment, it's worth unpacking the details of what's going on in Maryland's newly created insurance exchange. Like the sticker price on a car, CareFirst's proposal is likely not going to be the final word on what Marylanders pay for health insurance.
April 11, 2013
Maryland is on the right track in trying to do something to cut hospital costs ("Hospitals uneasy over rate plan," April 7). A state proposal would establish a plan to tie medical spending to the growth of the economy. The plan, according to your story, "is making hospital executives uneasy. " Well, let me tell those executives that their present hospital costs are making me uneasy. In early March, I had an allergic reaction to "Z-pack," an antibiotic prescribed for a virus that had been diagnosed as a bacterial infection I suffered for three days with no appetite and little sleep and finally had to go to the emergency room at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
April 9, 2013
Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s Sunday columns are usually thought-provoking, but not always in the way he intended. His latest opinion piece laments the vastly expanded entitlement economy - what he calls "a European-style welfare state" ("How the welfare state has grown," April 7). Although few objective observers would describe the U.S. social safety net that way, most people recognize that our current spending on these programs is not sustainable in the long term. However, like Mitt Romney before him, Mr. Ehrlich seems uninterested in how this state of affairs came to be, other than blaming "big government.
April 8, 2013
The Baltimore County police union says county officials have ignored a ruling by the state's highest court to reimburse some 400 retired Police Department employees for overpaid insurance premiums. A Maryland Court of Appeals decision in November required the county to reimburse the employees for wrongful deductions, but in a motion filed Friday in county Circuit Court, the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 4, says it hasn't happened. The union estimates the county owes retirees $572,887.10 through May 2011.
March 27, 2013
The Maryland Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would qualify more Marylanders for government health care and pay for a new health insurance marketplace, both part of advancing the rollout of federal health reform. The House of Delegates approved an identical bill Monday, clearing the way for the legislation to make its way to Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature. Initiatives in the bill spell out changes in the way poor or uninsured residents and small businesses would access health care once the federal law becomes effective next year.
March 20, 2013
This week marks the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. For Marylanders, that means a health care system that is stronger than it was three years ago, and a future that looks even brighter. Marylanders who have health insurance now have more security, thanks to new insurance market reforms and consumer protections put into place by the law. Preventive services like mammograms and flu shots are newly available for free to 1.5 million people with private insurance plans. About 48,950 Maryland Medicare beneficiaries with the highest prescription drug costs have saved an average of $768 on their medications.