Health and wellness experts are calling on Maryland health insurers to stop using a controversial health care payment called the Cobra Health Connector to boost sales of their policies in the state.
The payments were introduced in the 2016 Affordable Care Act to help lower costs for some of the state’s poorest residents.
But it has since been widely criticized for being a cash giveaway to health insurers, which in turn has raised questions about whether it should continue to exist.
The money was paid to insurers for discounts and other incentives to lure them into purchasing policies.
The payments are tied to the number of residents enrolled in a health plan and not the quality of care that is provided.
Some have called it a cash grab.
The state is now under fire for using the money to buy insurance for the poor and for providing incentives to those who don’t.
In addition to the Medicaid reimbursements, Marylanders will also see more out-of-pocket costs from health care providers, according to a study by the University of Maryland and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Maryland has the second-highest rate of uninsured residents in the country, according the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It has also one of the highest uninsured rates among the states with the lowest cost-sharing.
But there are concerns that the state is not spending enough money to cover its residents’ medical expenses.
That means they are not getting the care they need, according a recent report from the state Auditor’s Office.
In the past, Maryland insurers have used the money for marketing and promotional purposes, according it.
But in a recent audit, the auditor found the payments had not gone toward any actual health care expenses.
It also found that Maryland has been using the payments to make up for the loss of Medicaid reimburseings.
In a statement, the Maryland Insurance Department said it had implemented the changes to the payments.
“While the health and wellness industry is looking to the Cobras, we have also implemented measures to prevent any additional fraud or manipulation of the payments,” the statement said.
“In light of the auditor’s findings, we believe it is in the best interest of Marylanders to discontinue the payments and to make them available to other Maryland insurers.”
Insurers that do not comply could face fines.
The Maryland Insurance Commission has set aside $150 million to be used to pay down the cost of the Cobrains.
If insurers fail to meet the required payment targets, the commission could order them to make adjustments to the policies and make them more affordable for residents.