Health coverage sold on Obamacare’s health insurance exchange in Maryland will be among the cheapest in the country, state officials said Friday.
A 21-year-old nonsmoker will be able to buy health insurance that costs as little as $93 a month on the Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance exchange, starting Oct. 1 for coverage that takes effect Jan 1, the Maryland Insurance Division revealed in a press release. Rates for insurance with richer benefits and lower deductibles will be higher and premiums will vary by age, residence location, tobacco use and whether family members enroll.
Maryland is the latest state to disclose how much health insurance actually will cost under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. The state joins California, New York and elsewhere in achieving monthly premiums below estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and others. Officials in states including Indiana have released preliminary findings suggesting health insurance costs will skyrocket as a result of the law.
Younger, healthier people who buy inexpensive, bare-bones insurance on today’s market may see higher prices for more comprehensive coverage on the exchanges, while older people are expected to see lower rates. People with pre-existing conditions can’t be turned down or be charged higher premiums because of their medical histories. The law also prohibits women being charged more than men.
Rush Limbaugh asserted that same-sex marriage has never passed by popular vote, even though several states have passed gay marriage initiatives by popular vote and polls show a majority of Americans support it.
Discussing the upcoming Supreme Court cases on marriage equality on the March 25 edition of his syndicated radio show, Limbaugh said that “If left to a vote of the people, same-sex marriage loses every time it’s been on the ballot.” He added that “every time it’s been voted on by the people, it has gone down to defeat. That’s why the courts have to get involved”:
In fact, same-sex marriage has passed by referendum in several states. In November, Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states in the country’s history to allow same-sex marriage by referendum. Citizens in Minnesota voted against a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Maryland, one of three states to approve gay marriage by referendum last month, has started issuing marriage licenses to same sex partners. The states of Washington and Maine also approved gay marriage by referendum last month.
Let the wingnut tears begin.
Gay-rights advocates scored a major and unprecedented victory at the polls yesterday as voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage. In Minnesota they defeated a proposed constitutional amendment, modeled on federal law, that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state.
With that, nine states—Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington—and the District of Columbia—have solidly approved same-sex marriage. Another 12 states permit ‘domestic partnerships’ or ‘civil unions,’ which provide varying degrees of rights. (The laws in New Jersey, California and Oregon give same-sex couples virtually all the state law rights opposite-sex married couples have.)
What’s the fiercest rivalry in American politics today? There’s Obama-Romney, of course, but try O’Malley-McDonnell—neighboring governors battling across the Potomac River over how best to resuscitate a moribund economy.
Martin O’Malley, Maryland’s liberal Democratic governor, is competing for jobs, businesses and tax dollars with Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s conservative Republican chief executive. Both are rising stars considered potential presidential hopefuls in 2016. Both are Irish Catholics—Mr. McDonnell playfully calls Mr. O’Malley “the big Irishman to our north”—and each leads his party’s association of governors. The two regularly spar on the Sunday talk shows, on the pages of Washington-area newspapers, and over the radio.
Each man seems obsessed with proving that his economic model has outperformed the other’s. Mr. O’Malley, a former crime-fighting Baltimore mayor now in his second term in Annapolis, is an unapologetic tax-and-spender. He has adopted the rhetoric of the left that every government program is an “investment.”
Mr. O’Malley raised taxes on Maryland’s millionaires in 2007, but much of the revenue he hoped to generate never materialized—partly because there were fewer millionaires to tax. He’s since won increases in the state’s sales tax, tobacco tax, gas tax, and income tax for earners above $100,000 a year. When we spoke this week, he called raising taxes “a balanced approach” to reducing deficit spending, echoing President Obama.
We all know Obamacare is Romneycare and Romneycare is Obamacare and that the Bay State has set the standard for everything health reform—from the individual mandate right down to ways to cut its gigantic medical bill. Or at least the media have passed along that narrative. The Wall Street Journal’s recent piece, “Same State, New Stab at Health Care,”was no exception. But it did not quite tell the whole story. The piece focused on what Massachusetts may be doing to reduce medical costs and overlooked what neighboring Vermont is already doing.
Let’s face it. Vermont is easy to dismiss. Its small population, liberal patina, and the fact that it has passed a bill that might lead to single-payer health care down the road make it a health reform outlier, far less muscular than its neighbor to the south. But we’re remiss in treating it as a stepchild when it comes to controlling health care costs. In many ways, it is trailblazer, and the press should recognize it as such.
The Journal’s piece gave the news: Massachusetts legislators unveiled legislation that would propose setting a target for the rate at which the state’s health spending should rise, which the Journal reported “would once again put the state in the forefront of efforts to remake the American health-care system.” The state, the Journal continued, is considered a laboratory, and if it manages to reduce spending, that “initiative too could eventually be imitated elsewhere.” It quoted a reliable observer from the health care cognoscenti, Paul Ginsburg, the head of a Washington think tank, the Center for Health System Change. Ginsburg said no state or initiative of the federal government has implemented such a broad effort. “There will be a lot of attention to what Massachusetts is doing,” Ginsburg told the Journal.
Anya Rader Wallack, who runs Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board, took issue with that, telling me Ginsburg’s comment was “inaccurate.” “It leads one to believe there’s no other state working on it,” she said. “The introduction of a bill is seen as groundbreaking, when other states are already further ahead in addressing health care cost containment. “Vermont is one such state. The Green Mountain Care Board, created as part of last year’s legislation that put in place a plan for moving to a single-payer health system, “has broad responsibility and a fair amount of regulatory power,” she explained, and one of its tasks is to contain the state’s health care spending.
How is Vermont doing that?
Democrats said they, too, were eager to stanch deficits that now exceed $1 trillion annually. But they said it needed to be done in a more balanced way, with rich and poor alike sharing the load.
“It’s a path to greater prosperity - if you’re already wealthy,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, top Democrat on the Budget panel, mocking the “Path to Prosperity” title Ryan has given his document. “Because our Republican colleagues refuse to ask millionaires to contribute one cent to deficit reduction, they hit everyone and everything else.”
In a pair of preliminary votes expected Thursday, conservatives were offering their own proposal with deeper spending cuts and far faster deficit-reduction than the GOP plan, claiming to balance the budget in just five years. Democrats were pushing a measure featuring pumped-up spending for education and new tax credits for companies creating jobs and raising wages, while claiming savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, government waste and reductions in farm payments.
Both were destined to be defeated.
Underscoring the prickly partisan gulf over how to tackle the budget’s drastic imbalances, the House late Wednesday on a 382-38 vote easily shot down a compromise, bipartisan deficit-cutting plan by moderates of both parties that mingled tax increases with spending cuts.
Democratic lawmakers in Maryland are attempting to resurrect the 2008 millionaire’s tax as legislative support wanes for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $311 million package of tax increases.
More than two dozen Democrats are cosponsoring bills in the state Senate and House of Delegates that would increase state income taxes by 14 percent on the approximately 4,000 residents whose annual net taxable income exceeds $1 million. The bills are scheduled for hearings in the House and Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I’ve always believed that the people who are more able to pay more — millionaires and higher — should be contributing more in taxes,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s County, who is cosponsoring the Senate bill with Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, D-Baltimore.
Maryland residents are familiar with the millionaire’s tax, which would generate roughly $75 million in its first year. The General Assembly implemented the same surcharge on Maryland’s top income earners in 2008 and let it expire in December 2010, following reports that it drove millionaires out of the state. Republican lawmakers, as well as some state economists, balk at the idea of bringing back the surcharge.
“The millionaire’s tax has got to be one of the dumbest things they have ever thought of proposing,” said Dee Hodges, president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association, which lobbies against new taxes. “I can’t imagine why they would try to bring this tax back.”
Some Democrats say the tax is a better alternative to O’Malley’s 2013 budget proposal, which would hit one in five Marylanders with higher taxes to help close a $1 billion budget gap.
A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved by the state Senate, which advanced a measure that narrowly cleared the House of Delegates last week.
The final vote by the state Senate ended a yearlong drama in Annapolis over the legislation, and marked the first time an East Coast state south of the Mason-Dixon line has supported gay nuptials.
With the vote, the measure moves to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has said he will sign it.
Maryland would join the District and seven states in allowing same-sex marriages. Supporters have cast the bill as a major advance in equal rights. Opponents have called it a misguided attempt to redefine the institution of marriage.
Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.
Regardless of the fact that the city has no official connection to the event, and that Mayor Rick Meehan’s presence was only ceremonial, it’s beyond beyond revolting that in this day and age a resort town like Ocean City, Maryland would feature a speaker with a substantial documented history of promoting religious bigotry and discrimination.
If you’re Muslim, have Muslim family members or friends, or if you’re simply a person who believes that religious bigotry and discrimination should be opposed on moral grounds, then if you have plans to vacation in Ocean City, MD, you might want to change your itinerary.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly town on the mid-Atlantic seaboard, I can personally highly recommend Ocean City, New Jersey. It’s beautiful, clean, has a boardwalk with plenty of shops & great little amusement park, and it doesn’t give platforms to known purveyors of hatred. Oh, and it doesn’t allow the sale of alcohol—or at least it didn’t when I lived close by in Atlantic City—however you can BYOB.
Breakfast with Boykin
Retired Gen. Jerry Boykin was the featured speaker at this morning’s “Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast” in Ocean City, in spite of calls for city officials not to give a platform to the promoter of religious bigotry and discrimination. RWW has documented that Boykin has spent much of his retirement calling for American Muslims to be denied the protection of the First Amendment and denied the right to build mosques for worship. Boykin has also insisted that President Obama is building a Hitlerian army of brownshirts to force Marxism down Americans’ throats.
Over the past week more than 1600 individuals contacted city officials to ask that they distance themselves from Boykin’s religious bigotry and extremism. and other civil rights and social justice organizations joined PFAW’s Michael Keegan in criticizing Ocean City officials for associating the city’s good name with Boykin. […]
From The Baltimore Sun, prior to this morning’s breakfast:
Religious bigotry in Ocean City?
[…] Make no mistake: This is not an issue of freedom of speech or of any of the constitution’s protections for religious expression that Mr. Boykin seems so eager to deny to those who don’t share his own Christian faith. Mr. Boykin has every right to say whatever outrageously offensive and hateful things about Muslims pop into his head, and the private organizers of an Ocean City prayer breakfast have the right to invite him to speak. Likewise, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and the town council can attend the breakfast if they so choose. What they cannot do, however, is pretend that their presence there won’t reflect badly on them and the resort town they lead. They need to make clear whether they agree with Mr. Boykin’s views, they need to do it immediately and they need to do it publicly.
Here’s a sampling of the type of person Ocean City, MD felt is was appropriate to invite to a prayer breakfast that’s supposedly designed to bring together “clergy, citizens and visitors of all faiths”—note that he has also compared the President of the United States to a Nazi brownshirt:
Shame on you, Ocean City, MD. Who will you invite next year, David Duke?
Official Twitter page of the Ocean City, Maryland Department of Tourism.