Maryland Announces Connector Program on Health Overhaul

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File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Maryland launched an initiative on Thursday to help residents get health insurance under the federal health care law.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced the start of the Connector Program, which will be funded with about $24 million in anticipated state and federal grants. The money will be used to fund six organizations that will provide consumer assistance and enrollment resources throughout the state.

The new health care navigators and assisters will work to help individuals and small employers through outreach, eligibility determination and enrollment into Medicaid and qualified health plans.

“By working together to implement the Affordable Care Act, we aren’t just helping Marylanders get the care they need, we’re also creating over 300 jobs across our state,” Brown said in a statement.

About $8.5 million in state funds will be used to support navigator staff costs, according to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. An anticipated $16 million in federal grants will support program start-up costs and assisters.

A regional approach is being taken to provide in-person assistance as the new health insurance coverage options become available in October. Each organization will help consumers learn about and apply for an appropriate health insurance product, including Medicaid, the Maryland Children’s Health Program and subsidized and non-subsidized qualified health plans.

“The regional approach will ensure that the local resources and infrastructure within the communities being served will be utilized to reach the uninsured and expand access to health care for many residents who have not had coverage in the past,” said Rebecca Pearce, executive director of the Maryland Benefit Exchange.

HealthCare Access Maryland, which will have 107 new jobs, will serve Baltimore and Baltimore County, as well as Anne Arundel County. Seedco Inc., which will have 25 new jobs, will serve Harford, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. The Worcester County Health Department, which will have 17 new jobs, will help Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will be served by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (Capital Region), where there will be 80 new jobs. Calvert Health Solutions (Southern Region) will serve Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, and there will be 20 new jobs. Healthy Howard (Western Region), which will get 57 new jobs, will serve Howard, Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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