Maryland: Legislature passes bill to auto-enroll ~60,000 SNAP recipients into Medicaid/CHIP!

Yesterday I noted that the Maryland legislature, which has had an excellent record on healthcare reform policy in recent years, had a rare misstep when they took a pass on allowing undocumented immigrants to enroll in the states ACA exchange. While the lack of federal subsidy eligibility would have severely limited the number of undocumented Maryland residents who would be able to utilize this path towards healthcare, it was still a missed opportunity.

Today, however, I can report that the MD legislature has passed several other bills which move things in the right direction. Via Rob Flaks of WMDT:

With just days left in the General Assembly session, Maryland lawmakers have passed a series of bills aimed at expanding healthcare access and combating costs across the state.

Maryland Healthcare for All Coalition President Vincent DeMarco tells 47ABC they are celebrating the passage of a bill to extend the young adult subsidy for low-income people ages 18-24 looking to buy into the Maryland Healthcare Exchange for another two years.

“46,000 families have been helped, 17,000 new young people got enrolled, so this year the Maryland General Assembly has voted to extend that program for another two years, and then a study to see how to make it permanent,” DeMarco said.

Also passed by the General Assembly, a bill to automatically enroll SNAP recipients to Medicaid, in a move DeMarco says will help enroll an additional 60,000 Marylanders who already qualified for the program.

DeMarco also applauded the passage of a bill to establish the state’s Drug Affordability Board and give them additional funding to give the board the authority to regulate drug prices.

I've written about the Young Adult Subsidy program before; it adds supplemental financial help to younger ACA enrollees, which encourages more so-called "Young Invincibles" to sign up, which in turn helps improve the overall risk pool and thus reduces overall premiums. The bill in question would extend the program out by another two years.

I don't know much about the Drug Affordability Board, but it sounds promising.

As for the SNAP auto-enrollment bill, I know that several other states have had similar programs in place for years--it makes total sense in Medicaid expansion states, since the household income eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is generally 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), while ACA Medicaid expansion is generally available to residents earning up to 138% FPL (technically 133%, plus a 5% income disregard).

Since anyone eligible for SNAP benefits is pretty much also eligible for Medicaid by definition in those states, it makes total sense to just automatically enroll them in the program if they aren't already.