Maryland to save $829 million in first years of healthcare reform

The healthcare reform law will save Maryland $829 million by 2020, according to a new report by the council created to help state departments and agencies implement the law.

In its interim report to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council says the law will cover 400,000 more people by 2017 and cut Maryland’s uninsured rate in half, from 14 percent to 6.7 percent. But the report also warns that enhanced federal funding will start to dry up in 2020, as the state becomes responsible for a bigger part of its Medicaid budget.

“Maryland is projected to spend $46 million more [in 2020] in that year as a result of health care reform” than it otherwise would have, according to an executive summary of the report. “For this reason, the state must focus on bending the cost curve early in order to improve the outlook at the end of the decade.”

The report suggests doing so by increasing access to primary care doctors, getting hospitals and physicians’ offices to adopt electronic health records and reducing hospital-acquired infections.

The council is chaired by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John Colmers.