Maryland Considers Legislation to Preserve the Affordable Care Act's Consumer Protections

Since its enactment on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has been highly controversial.  Fearful of federal attempts to dismantle the ACA, the Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission (“Commission”) in 2017.  Signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, the Commission was established to “(1) monitor potential and actual federal changes to the ACA…; (2) assess the impact of such changes; and (3) provide recommendations for State and local action to protect access to affordable health coverage.”  Under its current form, the Commission will terminate on June 30, 2020.

The Commission Explained

The Commission consists of members from groups that are involved in health care and health insurance including legislators, the Secretary of Health, the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, the Attorney General, representatives of health insurers, healthcare industry groups, and providers, as well as consumers, employers, and members of the public.

The duties of the Commission require an annual study that includes “(1) an assessment of the current and potential adverse effects of the loss of health coverage on the residents, public health, and the economy of the State resulting from changes to the ACA, Medicaid, MCHP, Medicare, or the Maryland All-payer Model; (2) an estimate of the costs of such adverse effects and the resulting loss of health coverage; (3) an examination of measures that may prevent or mitigate such adverse effects and the resulting loss of health coverage; and (4) recommendations for laws that may be warranted to minimize such adverse effects and assist residents in obtaining and maintaining affordable health coverage.”

The Commission Responds to Texas v. United States

On December 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a highly-anticipated ruling in Texas v. United States, in which it affirmed a lower-court ruling that the individual mandate provision of the ACA, which was reduced to $0 as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, was no longer considered a tax; and Congress no longer had the constitutional authority to enforce the mandate.  Going further, the lower court ruled that the individual mandate was not severable from the rest of the ACA, and thus held that the whole law is unconstitutional.

In response to the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that the ACA may be entirely unconstitutional, the Commission is expected to introduce during this General Session several pieces of legislation to protect key provisions of the ACA.  These bills will include requirements that all health insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions and that young adults be allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26 years old.  This proposed legislation seeks to preserve these popular provisions of the ACA even if the Federal law ceases to exist.

After the Maryland General Assembly concludes its session, Tydings will update this article, as well as provide a summary of all health care legislation introduced during the 2020 General Session.

For more information, please contact Greg Garrett or any member of the Tydings health care practice group.

This information has been prepared by Tydings for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.