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Maryland Pushes Forward on Affordable Health Care

GOP lawmakers missed a key deadline this weekend to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Virginia Carter)
GOP lawmakers missed a key deadline this weekend to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Virginia Carter)
October 2, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Groups that have pushed for health care for all Americans are breathing a collective sigh of relief.

Senate Republicans missed a deadline this weekend to use the budget reconciliation process to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

That means they now have to have 60 Senate votes to repeal it, and that isn't likely to happen.

Matthew Celentano, deputy director of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, says the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, but it has been a lifesaver for people who otherwise couldn't afford to pay their insurance premiums.

"There are solutions that we can come up with together, on a bipartisan basis,” he stresses. “Create more affordable options. We could create more places for people to go to get coverage, and that's what we ultimately need to do. We need to keep moving the ball forward to make sure that every single person is covered."

On Sunday, Maryland became the first state in the nation to prevent price gouging by prescription drug manufacturers.

The Association for Accessible Medicines sued, saying the new law is unconstitutional, but U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Garbis said the group failed to prove that. The association says it will appeal.

According to Celentano, Maryland isn't waiting for the federal government to take action on the high cost of health care. Last year, the General Assembly created the Health Insurance Protection Commission, through Senate Bill 571.

"This commission has already met twice, and it's looking at ways that Maryland can move forward on the state level to make sure there are more affordable options, so we address some of the problems of the ACA, and we fix it moving forward," he states.

Celentano notes it isn't the end of the health care battle in Congress. The Trump administration has vowed to repeal the ACA, and has already slashed the open enrollment period for coverage in half, as well as the budget to publicize it and assist people who want to sign up.

Open enrollment begins in Maryland on Nov. 1.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD