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Md. advocates back panel to monitor health care changes

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland health care advocates on Wednesday highlighted the need for a new state commission to monitor potential changes to the Affordable Care Act.

The Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act is part of a package of bills that Democrats are backing out of concern for how policies supported by President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress could hurt Maryland.

The commission would monitor what Congress may do to affect health care coverage for Maryland residents. It would report to the General Assembly with suggestions about how the state could respond.

Carolyn Quattrocki, a deputy attorney general who once served as head of Maryland’s health care exchange, said the state will need a panel of experts who can act quickly to make adjustments to any changes made by the federal government.

“Part of the problem is there are so many trade-offs, and if they make a tweak here or a change there it’ll affect other things, and we will have to respond accordingly to be able to protect what we have achieved,” she told the Maryland Senate Finance Committee.

Any changes could have a particularly significant impact in Maryland.

A review by state analysts in January found that more than $7.7 billion in federal funding authorized under the Affordable Care Act is anticipated between fiscal years 2018 and 2022. The 2018 budget assumes 312,000 people enrolled under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provision will receive full physical and behavioral health care coverage benefits at a total cost of care of $2.8 billion.

In addition, Maryland is in an unusual position, because the state’s all-payer model contract was approved through a federal agency created by the ACA. Failure to renew the current five-year contract would result in Medicare and Medicaid payments to Maryland being reduced by $2.3 billion annually, state analysts say.

Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature already has passed a resolution that gives the state’s attorney general the ability to sue the federal government, without permission from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

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