NFIB/MD Wants to Abandon State Health Exchange

Date: July 15, 2014

Related Content: News Healthcare Maryland

(July 15, 2014)

Maryland small business owners have had enough of the state’s bumbling on
health care and they want to switch to the federal exchange, said the National
Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)


“The health
care law has been a rolling disaster for small businesses in Maryland and state
officials have proved that they’re not up to the job of running a system
competently,” said NFIB State Director Jessica Cooper.


Maryland is
one of a handful of states that opted to build and run their own health insurance
exchange.  The others chose federally-facilitated marketplaces,
which famously blew up on the launch pad but appears to be much more functional
than the Maryland exchange.  Maryland,
on the other hand, wasted more than $100 million on an exchange
marketplace that failed so badly that it couldn’t be fixed.  Earlier
this year state officials decided to scrap that system and spend millions more
on a version used by Connecticut.  But now that system is sputtering, with
reports of a new glitch that is errantly cancelling insurance policies for
thousands of customers.


“You couldn’t
make this up,” said Cooper.  “Obviously they don’t know what they’re doing
and it’s not fair to small businesses or taxpayers to let them continue blowing
money on systems that don’t work.”


Beyond the
glaring technical failures, Maryland officials seem to have designed a market
that discourages competition. Ninety four percent
of customers who purchased insurance through the exchange
appear to have been influenced
toward one carrier, CareFirst, which now wants to raise premiums as much as 30
percent. And unlike many states, Maryland did not allow for a continuation
of non-Affordable Care Act-compliant plans.  This decision further
restricted choice for individuals and small businesses.


designed a system that created a near monopoly despite that the program was
sold as a way to increase competition,” said Cooper.  “The predictable
result of a monopoly is higher prices and lower quality.”


The health
care debacle should be a major issue in this year’s race for governor and both
candidates should assure voters that they understand the problem, she said.


“Lt. Governor
Brown and Larry Hogan could do themselves a favor and have an impact now by
signaling that they’re not willing to waste any more money,” said Cooper. 
“Switching to the federal website should be item number one on their respective
to-do lists.”


The problem
has been especially troublesome for Lt. Governor Brown, who oversaw the
construction of the Maryland website.  But the mark of a good leader, said
Cooper, is a willingness to admit mistakes and move forward.


business owners sometimes make bad investments too but they don’t throw good
money after bad,” she said.  “Both of these men owe it to the small business
community and to the taxpayers to cut our losses and move quickly to a system
that works.”


NFIB members
overwhelmingly opposed the federal Affordable Care Act and they predicted many
of the problems that now plague Maryland and other states.  As a practical
matter, however, they’d much rather deal with a functional marketplace website,
said Cooper. 


“That system
doesn’t exist in Maryland and we can’t afford to waste more time and money
trying to build one when there’s a ready alternative,” she said.  “One way
or the other this is going to cost Maryland small businesses more money. 
It will be more expensive to keep pouring money into the state website and our
members believe it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.”


To learn more about NFIB
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Related Content: News | Healthcare | Maryland

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