ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Thursday the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold nearly all of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul gives considerable momentum to reform efforts in Maryland.

Maryland has passed legislation to create a health care exchange, setting up standards and regulations to run the program and creating the framework for a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy coverage.

“We remain as committed as ever to moving forward on behalf of our families,” O’Malley and Brown said in a joint statement. “We must move forward, not back.”

Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the state plans to move forward with increasing Medicaid coverage levels for adults to 133 percent of the federal poverty threshold beginning in 2014.

“There’s an enormous benefit for the state to having coverage for people who otherwise we’re paying for,” Sharfstein said in a telephone interview.

As part of a special session in 2007, O’Malley’s first year as governor, Maryland approved expanding health care coverage to 116 percent of the poverty threshold. That change has expanded health care to more than 100,000 parents and children, said Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

“This law allows us to go beyond that — to go to 133 percent of poverty, which is roughly $30,000 a year for a family of four for parents and childless adults,” DeMarco said.

Maryland has about 747,000 residents who do not have health insurance.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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