Maryland officials say a blueprint released Monday for implementing President Obama's health care reform will ultimately save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, but critics say those projections are unrealistic. The report by the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, headed by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and outgoing Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John Colmers, says roughly half of Maryland's 700,000 uninsured residents will gain coverage under the new federal health care law. Right now, 14 percent of Marylanders are uninsured.

Among the recommendations: create an independent public entity to review the exchange where residents will buy private insurance, improve care for the remaining uninsured, enhance coordination of mental health and medical coverage, develop a centralized education strategy and maintain employer-offered insurance. The council also pushed for the creation of the Governor's Office of Health Reform, which would monitor the changes.

"With this roadmap, the state is better positioned than most states to comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and take full advantage of the once in a generation opportunity to lower costs, expand coverage and improve health services," said the group in outlining its recommendations.

The health care plan signed by President Obama last year has failed to gain support with most voters, and critics have argued the federal government overstepped its authority in requiring nearly every American be insured by 2014. Lawmakers in dozens of states have filed bills challenging the constitutionality of the health care package.

"It's no wonder a panel of O'Malley's left wing political allies would provide a positive spin on implementing Obama's overreaching government takeover of health care," said Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney. "It's clear Maryland Democrats need to get our state's fiscal house in order before implementing a massive government takeover of health care we clearly can't afford."

House Republicans suspended a vote on repealing the federal law in the wake of the shooting of Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The Maryland panel concluded the law would save the state nearly $830 million over the next decade. Uninsured residents would use an exchange to shop for insurance with subsidies and others would receive coverage through Medicaid expansion.

Supporters argue that an influx of federal funding would allow more people to get insured, which would decrease uncompensated care -- and improve the state's bottom line.