By SARAH TINCHER
ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 31, 2014)—Gov. Martin OMalley signed the emergency health insurance bill Thursday that will allow residents who missed the Jan. 1 deadline due to ongoing problems with the states health care exchange website to retroactively enroll for coverage under the Maryland Health Insurance Plan. The legislation will take effect immediately.
With Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and House Speaker Michael E. Busch at his side, OMalley signed the legislation in the State House after it had been circulating through the General Assembly for less than a month and was passed by the Senate only one day prior.
Just before signing the bill, OMalley said it could help as many as 1,400 people, which is enough for lawmakers to take action.
The reason we do this is because if it affects just one family, it is worth the effort, he said.
The OMalley administration and lawmakers such as Miller have continuously advocated for the passage of the bill, citing residents need for health insurance.
So many people get caught up in crises and they dont realize that theyre in a crisis until it occurs, and then they have to go to the emergency room or the hospital, Miller said. Hospitals are overburdened theyre not getting the type of care that they would have gotten if they had health insurance and were able to see a general practitioner first.
Despite troubles with Marylands insurance exchange website, OMalley and some lawmakers are still remaining optimistic about the overall effectiveness of the exchange and pushing to enroll as many residents as possible by the March 31 deadline.
Its an evolution, its a slow start, but were going to make it right, Miller said.