Maryland Governor Signs Health Benefit Exchange Act Including Provision for Stand-Alone Vision Plans

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2012 on May 2, which was amended to allow stand-alone vision plans to participate in the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange as well as the Small Business Health Options Program Exchange. Maryland is the first state to pass such legislation. The bill was passed by the legislature late last month, as reported in VMail

“This is a critical development in health care reform and establishes the ideal Exchange structure for ensuring patients continue to have access to their doctors,” said Julian Roberts, executive director of NAVCP/NASHO. “We applaud the State of Maryland for recognizing the importance of stand-alone vision plans participating directly in the insurance Exchanges and providing Marylanders access to an expanded choice of doctors to support their eyecare needs.”

“We are very pleased to hear the State of Maryland listened to the concerns associated with patients losing access to their doctors if stand-alone vision plans had been excluded from the state Exchanges,” added Stuart Thomas, OD, chairman, VSP Global, which noted in a statement, “This preserves the consumer’s right to choose either vision sold as an endorsement to major medical or vision provided through a stand-alone vision plan. Qualified vision plans will be required to be certified on a comparable level with qualified health plans and qualified dental plans.”