Maryland considering single-payer health insurance program

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The Maryland General Assembly has scheduled a March 9 public hearing on a bill that would take a far more aggressive approach toward health reform in the state than passed at the federal level last year.

The bill, SB388, would create a single-payer system to administer all health insurance coverage in Maryland. The public hearing is planned before the Senate Finance Committee, beginning at 1 p.m. No action by the Maryland House of Representatives has been scheduled.

The 27-page bill makes no mention of insurance agents and brokers, and if approved would likely eliminate the need for them. The language of the bill doesn’t clearly explain how those services would be performed.

Eleven senators are sponsoring the bill, the Maryland Health Security Act of 2011, which would establish the Maryland Health System to provide health care services to all residents of the state under a system not dependent on employment. The program would be funded by the state and permit people to access any approved health care provider in the state.

If approved, according to the bill’s text, the program would serve as the state’s effort to meet the federal law’s requirements.

A grassroots group, Healthcare-Now! of Maryland, is pushing for the bill, arguing that the Canada-style approach to health care would eliminate the profit motive of insurers and lower overhead, according to the group’s website.

Full story: Maryland bill to create single-payer system excludes insurance agents – Insurance & Financial Advisor