Also Signs Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Bills, Legislation Strengthening Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Governor Larry Hogan, joined by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and Speaker of the House Mike Busch, today signed landmark legislation to stabilize Maryland’s health care insurance market and prevent rates from skyrocketing due to the repeated failures of Congress and multiple federal administrations to find and implement solutions to this well-identified problem.
“This problem should have been solved in Washington, but nothing has been done. Our team has been working on potential solutions for more than a year, and I want to thank the Speaker, the Senate President, and legislators from both parties for working together with us in a common sense, bipartisan manner to address this crisis head-on and to prevent these massive rate increases,” said Governor Hogan. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together, and I’m proud to be signing these protections into law.”
In the absence of a comprehensive health care solution from Congress and the federal government, health insurance rates on Maryland’s individual market were set to increase by 50 percent or more in the coming year. After nearly a decade of increasing rates under the Affordable Care Act, the overall stability and foundation of Maryland’s health care market was in clear jeopardy. The legislation signed today (HB 1795/SB 1267) creates the structure for a reinsurance program to be administered by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE), which is predicted to help stabilize rates for the next several years. MHBE’s board must vote to formally apply for a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create the reinsurance program.
The governor and presiding officers also signed the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bills, providing record investment in K-12 education for the fourth year in a row, more than $420 million in school construction funding, increased funding to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, and historic investment in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts – all without raising taxes, cutting services, or raiding dedicated special funds.
“This marks the fourth straight year that we have passed a balanced budget with the support of both parties in both houses,” said Governor Hogan.
In addition to the record $6.5 billion for K-12 education, the budget includes $40 million in critical funding for school safety improvements. It also invests a record $1.2 billion in state funds toward wide-ranging Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts, continuing the Hogan administration’s commitment to protecting Maryland’s most precious natural asset. With more than $4 billion toward restoration efforts since taking office, no governor in state history has invested more in their first four years.
Finally, the governor signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Extension Act (SB 290), which reaffirms Maryland’s strong commitment to the multi-state, regional partnership combating climate change known as RGGI. The new law prevents future administrations from withdrawing from RGGI without legislative approval.
Under the Hogan administration, Maryland has been an environmental leader. The governor enacted clean air standards that are among the strongest in the nation and twice as strong as the Paris Accord recommendations. Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles serves as the chairman of RGGI’s Executive Committee, and the governor has personally lobbied other states, including Virginia and New Jersey, to join the partnership. “This legislation will prevent future governors from undoing our legacy and our strong commitment to clean air, unless the legislature agrees and votes to do so,” said Governor Hogan. “I want to thank the legislature for their support of our bipartisan efforts to cement Maryland’s national and international leadership in clean air, clean water, and protecting the environment.”