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Maryland Group Calls GOP Healthcare Plan a "Disaster"

Maryland watchdog groups say health insurance affordability and accessibility would be compromised under the American Health Care Act proposed by U.S. House Republicans. (V. Carter)
Maryland watchdog groups say health insurance affordability and accessibility would be compromised under the American Health Care Act proposed by U.S. House Republicans. (V. Carter)
March 15, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – On the heels of a report by the Congressional Budget Office that estimates the American Health Care Act would mean 24 million people would lose their health insurance, opponents of the plan in Maryland say they're gearing up for what could be a long battle.

Vincent DiMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, calls the GOP's plan "reprehensible and immoral," and adds his group will fight it with everything they have. He says every person in the country needs to speak up, including Maryland's top official.

"Say 'no way' to the Paul Ryan 'Destruction of Health Care' plan," he said. "In addition, in Maryland, we should call on our Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to defend us from this."

Gov. Hogan did send a letter to Congress in January, outlining how Medicaid and other federal health-care programs benefit the state. DiMarco says Hogan could be more aggressive. Republican lawmakers are calling their proposal common-sense reform that makes health care more affordable, and will eventually reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

DiMarco's group is also asking the Maryland General Assembly to create a commission to study the state's options if Congress passes the GOP plan, including the possibility of having the state attorney general file a lawsuit.

"There are Republican members of the House and Senate whose constituents who have benefited tremendously from the Affordable Care Act," he explained. "Are they going to be able to look these folks in the eye and say, 'We're going to throw you off your health care?' In the end, I don't think so."

The Republican plan includes tax breaks to help pay for insurance that its supporters say are more fair to all. But the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the plan would give consumers in the health-insurance marketplace an average of $1,700 less to buy coverage by 2020.

Its research says that would affect seniors and lower-income people the most, while the majority of tax breaks would go to businesses and the pharmaceutical industry.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD