ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland Senate passed an amended bill with a 34-7 vote Wednesday to provide health care insurance retroactively to some people who unsuccessfully tried to sign up on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange but couldn't due to technical problems with the website.
The Maryland House of Delegates passed the bill Tuesday, and the Maryland Senate originally passed it last Friday.
"We hope that it's the best thing we can do for everybody and make certain that everybody has an opportunity to participate in the health care program," said Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, (D) - president of the Maryland Senate.
The bill received support from several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley.
Brinkley is calling for an investigation of the state health exchange but supported the emergency bill because he says no family should be left without health insurance.
"What I wanted to do was hold them harmless and allow them the opportunity to gain access to health care, but at the same time, we need to keep the heat up. We need to keep the investigation moving forward if they ever decide to actually start one," said Brinkley, (R) - Frederick County.
Senator Chris Shank voted against the bill because he says enough taxpayer money has been poured into the website, and he thinks the administration should be held accountable for what happened to this site and its technical failures.
"Bureaucratic incompetence is what is boils down to and that is under the watch of the O'Malley-Brown administration in terms of this rollout," said Shank, (R) - Washington County.
Miller isn't sure yet how much this will cost but estimates only a few hundred more people will sign up.
"It's not so much a question of the cost as it is making certain that everybody has health care," Miller said. "We're the wealthiest state in the union quite frankly in terms of median income, and there's no reason that any person in the state, young or old, should go without some form of health insurance."
Governor Martin O'Malley (D) sponsored the bill and will sign it into law at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Enrollment will stay open through March 31st. It will be retroactive as of January 1st.
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