From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, joined by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, today celebrated the one-year anniversary of health care reform with a panel discussion in Baltimore about how the law’s consumer protections are helping Marylanders – especially women and children.
“I’m really proud of the consumer protections in our health law, and particularly proud of what we did to help women,” Senator Mikulski said. “We ended gender discrimination by big health insurance companies. No longer can they charge women more than men for the same coverage. No longer can women be denied coverage for being a victim of domestic violence or for having had a medically mandated C-section. And when they wanted to take our mammograms away, I introduced the women’s preventive health amendment to guarantee coverage of preventive care and screenings – like mammograms – with no co-pay and no deductible. I’ll keep fighting for health care reform and strong consumer protections for families, women and children.”
“The Affordable Care Act is an historic step forward for the health of women and families, and is putting health care decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors. As the primary health care decision-makers for their families, women stand to benefit tremendously from new benefits like free recommended preventive care in new plans and a ban on denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Consumer Assistance Grant program provides states with funds to help consumers navigate the insurance market, expand staff and capability,
and improve outreach. States project these grants will assist 99 million people in the first year of this program. Maryland is leading the way in ensuring that consumers have access to the best information available on their health care options.”
“I am so pleased to join Senator Mikulski, Secretary Sebelius and Attorney General Gansler at this roundtable discussion to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland continues to be a national leader and innovator in health care reform. With President Obama’s leadership and together, with our local and federal partners, we can continue to provide coverage for more of our families and children while ensuring that those who seek quality care remain protected through the Consumer Assistance Program.”
After the panel discussion, Senator Mikulski, Secretary Sebelius, Governor O’Malley and AG Gansler toured the Consumer Assistance Program Hot Line Call Center. The program was made possible by health care reform and funded in part by $642,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Marylanders can call 877-261-8807 for help filing complaints against their insurance company, appealing unfair insurance decisions, resolving billing disputes, obtaining tax credits or even enrolling in health insurance. Many hotline staffers are retired health-care professionals. The program helps consumers better understand their rights and navigate the insurance process.
The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The law gives Marylanders more control of their health care choices, and includes a number of important consumer protections.
These consumer protections include:
* Guaranteeing choice of primary care doctor and choice of pediatrician for children
* Giving women the right to see an OB-GYN without a referral first
* Ensuring cost sharing for emergency care, no matter where it’s needed
* Stopping insurance companies from refusing to insurance children – including an estimated 320,000 Maryland children – because of a pre-existing medical condition
* Allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s coverage until age 26
* Stopping insurance companies from canceling an individual’s insurance because of an unintentional mistake on their application
* Stopping insurance companies from putting lifetime dollar caps on benefits
* Stopping most insurance companies from denying coverage for needed care without a chance to appeal
* Stopping insurance companies from spending excessive amounts on overhead, by requiring them to spend 80 to 85 percent of premiums on health care
* Stopping insurance companies from issuing unreasonable premium increases
“Health Care Reform is already improving the day-to-day lives of Marylanders,” Senator Mikulski said. “Yet, as we celebrate this anniversary, House Republicans are waging a war on our new health care law. I am emphatically and unabashedly against the repeal of health care reform. And I want to know: What exactly do they want to repeal? And what do they plan to replace it with?”