News Release

Consumer Group Calls for New Competitive Health Care Marketplace

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, MD – Maryland policy-makers can address rising health care costs by implementing an effective health insurance exchange, according to a report released today by consumer group Maryland PIRG Foundation.

“Maryland leaders have the flexibility to craft an exchange that enhances choice and competition,” said Jenny Levin, Maryland PIRG Foundation’s state advocate. “Consumers need this new exchange to lower costs and improve the quality of their coverage.”

The report, Building a Better Health Care Marketplace, details the steps policy-makers must take to ensure that the exchange lives up to its promise. “To succeed, this new health insurance marketplace must be run by and for Maryland businesses and consumers, not by and for the insurance lobby,” said Jenny Levin. “It needs to have the power to negotiate for lower premiums and push for reforms that improve the quality of care. It needs to be consumer-friendly. And it needs to be big and stable. As Maryland policymakers create the rules for our exchange, they should focus on delivering results for consumers.”

“The Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform applauds the O’Malley Administration as it sets a national standard for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” said Leni Preston, Chair of the Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care Reform. “Critical to achieving the promise of that Act is the creation of a truly consumer-centric Health Benefit Exchange. Maryland PIRG Foundation, with its report, has made a significant contribution to ensure that our state gets this right by identifying the key issues. Addressing these will require informed and potentially difficult decisions on the part of policy makers and legislators.“

Maryland has an opportunity to build a better marketplace for health care. As the report shows, the exchange can help individuals and small businesses by increasing competition and improving choices. By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

“Insurers and other special interests will try to undermine the exchange by preventing it from negotiating and keeping consumers in the dark about the value of their coverage,” Levin concluded, “but our leaders have to stand up for consumers. Making the health care marketplace more competitive is the best opportunity we have to give consumers more power and lower costs.”

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