Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones signed a first-of-its-kind health care enrollment bill into law. The Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program (MEEHP) will let Marylanders jump-start enrollment into health insurance by simply checking a box on their annual state income tax returns.

This process will let the state’s health care exchange determine eligibility for free or low-cost health insurance based on information sent electronically from the tax return. Those who qualify for Medicaid will be enrolled automatically, and the exchange will reach out to people who qualify for private coverage and help them sign up for a plan that works for them and their family.

MEEHP is expected to help tens of thousands of Marylanders obtain health insurance, which will expand the pool of consumers who are insured and bring down premium costs for other enrollees.

The bill, which passed with broad, bipartisan support, should serve as a model by other states and the federal government for expanding health care access in a bipartisan way. To underscore this point, Families USA and the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative joined Maryland elected officials for the bill signing in Annapolis.

Sponsored in the House by Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (HB 814) and in the Senate by Sen. Brian Feldman (SB 802), the legislation builds on Maryland’s tradition of smart, practical, bipartisan innovation on health care. This tradition includes the state’s all-payer hospital system, the current Medicare hospital waiver that ramps up care coordination and lowers overall health care costs and last year’s bipartisan reinsurance bill, which stabilized the insurance market and lowered premiums in the individual market.

“The Maryland Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program will utilize existing resources more efficiently to get more Marylanders covered,” said Speaker Adrienne Jones. “It’s an out-of-the-box approach to protect the [Affordable Care Act] and continue to bring down health care costs here.”