Baltimore (December 20, 2012) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE) and the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) today announced the launch of Maryland’s Access to Care program.  The Access to Care program is designed to foster collaboration between the state, health insurers and safety net providers as each plans for newly insured Marylanders who will start to access healthcare services in 2014.  This program is built on the requirement that network plans offered through Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, provide meaningful access to critical health services including primary, reproductive, HIV/AIDS and behavioral health care.
As many as 730,000 Marylanders will become eligible for health insurance through Maryland Health Connection, and in preparation for the increase in newly insured, the state today released the Maryland Health Access Assessment Tool to collect data from safety net providers throughout Maryland. Maryland’s safety net providers – including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Local Health Departments, and Free Clinics -- are being asked to complete a short survey to help the state plan to meet the demand for healthcare services that is expected in 2014.
"By tapping into the vast knowledge of safety net providers across the state, provider availability and consumer needs can be projected. We encourage all to be part of the effort to prepare for 2014,” said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein.
The survey results will be used to continue overall planning efforts, further understand provider readiness and capacity for health reform implementation, and facilitate future conversations among safety net providers and insurers around contracting opportunities.  Data captured in the survey will also provide CHRC with information to develop future technical assistance and potential grant opportunities for safety net providers.
"Safety net providers will play a critical role in Maryland's implementation of the Affordable Care Act," commented John A. Hurson, CHRC Chairman. "The Commission is looking forward to supporting efforts that will build capacity and promoting the work of safety net providers."
In 2013, the state will also host a series of Access to Care program regional forums to connect safety net providers and health insurers, many of whom may have never worked with each other in the past.
“The Access to Care program has been developed through a collaborative stakeholder process to maximize consumers’ access to insurance coverage and a full range of critical health services as well,” said Rebecca Pearce, Executive Director, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
Safety net providers can access the survey at: Responses will be accepted until Friday, January 4, 2013.
Questions on completing the survey can be sent to:
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About Maryland Health Connection:
The Maryland Health Connection is the marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses to compare and enroll in health insurance, as well as determine eligibility for Medicaid and other assistance programs, federal tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Enrollment through Maryland Health Connection is scheduled to begin in October 2013, with insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2014. An estimated 150,000 individuals are expected to enroll in qualified health plans (QHPs) during the first year, increasing to approximately 275,000 by 2020.
 About Maryland Health Benefit Exchange:
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is a public corporation and independent unit of the State government established in April 2011 in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The Exchange has a nine member Board of Trustees that includes the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, Maryland Insurance Commissioner and Executive Director of the Maryland Health Care Commission. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is responsible for the administration of the Maryland Health Connection.
About Community Health Resources Commission:
The Commission was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2005 to expand access to health care services for low-income and uninsured Marylanders.  Over the last seven years, the Commission has awarded 110 grants, totaling $26.1 million, supporting programs in every jurisdiction of the state.  These grants have collectively provided access to health care for nearly 110,000 Marylanders, assisting efforts to reduce infant mortality rates in the state, boost primary care capacity, and promote adoption of health information technology.  In addition to these grant programs, the Commission is jointly implementing the Health Enterprise Zones Initiative with the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. 
About Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene works to improve the health status of every Maryland resident and to ensure access to quality health care. With an annual budget of approximately $10 billion, the Department includes Medicaid, public health, behavioral health, and services for the developmentally disabled. The Department regulates health care providers, facilities, and organizations, and manages direct services to patients where appropriate.   
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