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HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker | September 16, 2013
In just two weeks people can start enrolling for health plans that will be offered under health reform. But various surveys show that many people are confused by the legislation that will offer coverage for a wide range of uninsured Americans beginning in January. Many have heard about Obamacare, but don't know if they qualify for insurance or how to sign up if they do. The Baltimore Sun wants to help better that understanding. We want to hear what questions you have and we'll take them to experts around the state to answer.
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HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn, Andrea K. Walker and Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | July 30, 2014
Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein said Wednesday he plans to leave his post as secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where he drew criticism for the botched rollout of the state's health insurance exchange website. Sharfstein, a trained pediatrician who has spent his career in public service, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as an associate dean in January as the O'Malley administration ends. He took the state post three years ago after developing a national profile for his aggressive pursuit of public health initiatives in children's health, HIV and other areas.
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BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun | October 25, 2013
Even though employers won't be required to offer health insurance under Obamacare for more than a year, many already are fretting about the uncertainties raised by the law. Confusion over how the law will work and an evolving set of rules make it difficult to plan ahead, some employers say. Much of their misgiving centers on health care costs that might not be known for months. "Some concerns stem from the general confusion and unknowns surrounding certain aspects of the law," said Francis X. Kelly III, CEO of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group Inc., a group insurance administrator, broker and consultant.
BUSINESS
Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | July 24, 2014
Health insurers refunded more than $17 million to Marylanders last year because of a rule in the Affordable Care Act limiting the amounts the companies can spend on overhead costs as opposed to providing care, according to federal data. About 206,000 consumers in Maryland received the refunds, an average of $140 per family, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services released Thursday. The refunds are owed under a rule that requires insurers to spend 80 percent or 85 percent of the dollars they collect in premiums on medical care or activities that improve health care quality.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker | August 13, 2013
Maryland has opened the first call center where people can take their questions about health reform. The center that opened last week at 1 South Street in Baltimore has staff that can help Maryland residents and small businesses understand their insurance options and explain tax credits and other financial incentives in which they may be eligible under health reform. The center, which has bi-lingual staff, will open on a limited basis from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sept. 30. During open enrollment, the call center will open seven days and week and operate at full capacity with 125 staff.  Open enrollment on a state exchange, where people who don't have employer-sponsored insurance can buy plans, begins Oct. 1. Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014 and implementation of reform begins in January.
HEALTH
By Kelly Brewington, The Baltimore Sun | January 14, 2011
Baltimore HealthCare Access, a nonprofit group that connects city residents with medical care programs in Maryland, will sponsor a community forum today to educate the public on the changes health care reform will bring. The free event, called "Baltimore Health Care Now and Later," will begin with remarks from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and feature four forums tailored to seniors, business owners and general consumers. The first in a series of quarterly community-outreach events, the event aims to inform consumers and clear up misconceptions about the sweeping national health care overhaul passed last year.
NEWS
By Doug Mainwaring | January 18, 2011
When I embarked on a new career as a real estate agent, I became an independent contractor. In the world of real estate agencies, there is no employer-provided health insurance. I was faced with the harsh reality that all who are self-employed face: Not only would I have to pay for my health insurance out of my own pocket, I would have to do it with after-tax dollars, essentially adding another 50 percent to the cost of whatever health care plan I chose. So, if I chose a plan that cost $10,000 per year, I would have to earn approximately $15,000 to pay for that plan.
NEWS
February 26, 2010
I've devoted the past several months, and every day this week, totally to health care reform. I've attended rallies, met with congressional staff members, made phone calls and marched. Finally, for the first time since the election in Massachusetts, I am cautiously optimistic that we might actually get it done. I'm optimistic because senators like Harry Reid and Chris Dodd are finally speaking publicly, and forcefully, about getting the job done with or without the Republicans. Representatives like Congressman Anthony Weiner are plainly stating the facts on the House floor about our congressional representatives being a subsidiary of the insurance firms.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker | July 11, 2012
My colleague John Fritze is reporting that the House of Representatives have voted to repeal President Barack Obama's health care reform bill - for the 31st time. The 244 to 185 vote comes just two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law. Republicans have pledged to try their best to hurt the law legislatively. Their efforts may prove inconsequential this session, since the issue is not expected to be taken up in the Senate. But they're hoping for better luck after the elections if they are able to gain enough Congressional seats.
NEWS
July 3, 2012
In a recent article about the health reform law, The Sun quoted small business owner Eric Maynard as objecting to the "employer penalty" of the Affordable Care Act ("Maryland poised for next phase of health reform," June 29). But Mr. Maynard's business has only 26 employees, and the law does not penalize any business with fewer than 50 employees. I think it was The Sun's obligation to point out all the relevant facts in its articles, including that Mr. Maynard's business will not be subject to the employer penalty under the new health reform law. A lack of clear and accurate information hinders the public's capacity to form sensible opinions about public policy.
NEWS
June 3, 2014
The biggest issue for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in his run for governor is his role as the head of Maryland's effort to implement the Affordable Care Act. He has had months to develop an answer for the failed launch of the state's health insurance exchange website and the troubles that persisted so pervasively that the entire site was scrapped. Maryland Public Television host Jeff Salkin asked him to explain his role during Monday's gubernatorial debate. Here is his answer verbatim. You be the judge.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | May 31, 2014
Maryland will not need to ask the federal government for additional grant money to build a new health exchange that will replace the faulty one the state was forced to scrap. Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, also chair of the board that oversees Maryland's exchange, said late Friday that there is enough money left over from building the first exchange plus funding through Medicaid to cover the $40 million to $50 million it will cost to create a new site where the uninsured can buy private health plans and enroll in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. "We went through every line of the budget to find as much money in the grants that we could redirect," Sharfstein said.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | April 19, 2014
A 60-second radio spot by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler criticizes Maryland's online health insurance exchange - and by extension Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, his rival in the Democratic campaign for governor. What the ad says : The ad begins with a statement by Bonnita Spikes, a retired nurse from Prince George's County, telling listeners she tried to sign up for coverage through the "ridiculous" state website more than 50 times. Without using Brown's name, the spot points to the O'Malley-Brown administration's acknowledged failure to ensure a smooth launch of the site, a key to implementing the Affordable Care Act. It points to press coverage calling the site "a debacle" and asserts that it's a "$261 million" failure.
NEWS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun | April 19, 2014
Jenny Morgan headed a health care IT company for years before jumping to private equity, but she realized her passion wasn't investing in firms — it was being in the trenches, running one. So when the founder of Linthicum-based basys wanted to bring in a new CEO, she happily took the job in 2009. The timing — during the rough recession — wasn't ideal. But she says the benefits-administration software company made good use of the downtime and positioned itself for growth. Basys, which employs nearly 100 people, focuses on a very specific niche: helping "Taft-Hartley" funds, entities that manage union members' benefits, with their administration.
HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn and Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | March 31, 2014
As consumers rushed to sign up for insurance on the last day of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, Maryland's health exchange website slowed to a crawl and all circuits were busy at the call center. That worsened a bottleneck of consumers who have tried for months to overcome glitches on the troubled website to be able to buy a private plan or sign up for Medicaid. Consumers had faced a fine for not meeting the Monday deadline to get health coverage, but thousands will still be able to sign up. Maryland officials decided not to penalize those who at least started the process to enroll through the exchange but were stymied by glitches, and will allow them to enroll for several more weeks.
NEWS
March 20, 2014
I wonder why letter writer S. R. Cohen is so quick to attack neurosurgeon Ben Carson when he seems so unaware of Mr. Carson's beliefs ( "Ben Carson commits 'values malpractice,'" March 16). One would have to look far and wide to find anyone with greater moral clarity or finer track record than Dr. Carson. Dr. Carson is not against universal health care; he just knows there are ways to do it that shouldn't involve throwing the country over a fiscal cliff, after which there will be no benefits for anyone.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker | November 19, 2012
Maryland voters are supportive of health care reform even though some still haven't grasped all the details, a new survey has found. The survey sponsored by independent health philanthropy The Horizon Foundation and advocacy group Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition , found that those who would gain the most from health reform seemed to know the least about it. The study results were based on a telphone poll of 1,413 voters conducted September 14 to 23. Fifty-nine percent of respondents support health reform, compared to 19 percent who oppose it. The other 22 percent are unsure.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker | November 7, 2012
Supporters of health care reform are breathing a sigh of relief after the re-election of President Barack Obama. Challenger Mitt Romney had vowed to repeal the law if elected, but now it is in safer territory. The provision, which requires most people to buy health insurance, was a key initiative of Obama's first term. While there likely won't be a complete overhaul of health reform, funding of the provision could come up in Congress as the country looks to reduce its massive deficit.
HEALTH
By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun | March 18, 2014
The board of Maryland's health exchange voted Tuesday to extend the contract of 12 companies involved in management of the website where citizens can buy insurance under health reform. The 12 companies will have their contracts extended through June 30 at a cost of $831,967 that will come mostly from federal money. The companies provide services such as information technology vendor contract management, systems analysis, federal grant management and information technology security support.
NEWS
By Catherine E. Pugh and Dan K. Morhaim | March 10, 2014
This summer, Gov. Martin O'Malley and public health leaders justly celebrated the fact that infant mortality in our state has been driven to a new record low. By increasing access to care and outreach for new mothers and their babies - particularly in low-income communities - Maryland's infant mortality rate fell by 21 percent between 2008 and 2012. This is a tremendous achievement. But this hard won progress - as well as access for all expectant mothers - is at risk as we confront a looming obstetrics crisis: multi-million dollar medical malpractice judgments that are driving even higher the already high cost of medical liability.
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