Yesterday the House of Delegates debated SB 134, the bill that will provide retroactive coverage to those who tried to register for health insurance on Maryland’s notoriously flawed health care exchange website. We have affectionately named it the “Anthony Brown Health Care Exchange Bailout.” Below are some great remarks delivered on the floor by Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of District 37B on the Eastern Shore and Del. Herb McMillan of District 30 in Anne Arundel County.
From the very beginning the Maryland Health Exchange has been a failure to launch. Millions of dollars spent on the roll out, on the web site, on fixes and now we will spend more taxpayer dollars on a temporary fix to a long term problem.
You expect us to have faith that it will all be fixed – but the fact that the bill allows the MHIP Board to extend this coverage prospectively again and again and again demonstrates that there is NO REASON TO BELIEVE that it will be fixed before the end of this legislative session.
In the meantime, you expect people to prove that they attempted to get coverage, – to sign an affidavit that their computer screen froze, to sign an affidavit that they were on hold for over two hours, or to sign an affidavit that they were given the wrong phone number – or to submit paper applications– Now that’s progressive!
There is a simple solution. If this is really about getting people health insurance, skip the bureaucracy and let individuals who are eligible for a subsidy have their subsidy and go to a private broker to get coverage.
This is a nothing more than a bailout, a cover up and another waste of taxpayer dollars and I cannot support that. The contractors and the leaders who were responsible for these mistakes should be paying up – not the taxpayers.
- Del. Jeannie Haddaway Riccio
The Affordable Care Act in the US, and in MD, was sold to the people on the 4 basic premises.
- If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance.
- If you have health insurance it will cost the same or be less expensive
- That there will be enough new people signing up for health insurance to subsidize those who cannot afford it – not just more people signing up for Medicaid and subsidies.
- That government will be competent to manage one of the largest segments of our economy, and one that touches each of us personally.
It is clear that on both a national and state level, that none of these premises are correct. This bill attempts to fix a flat tire on a car with a blown engine; the car still won’t get you anywhere when you’re done. Better to fix the car’s engine before you fix the flat tire; but this bill doesn’t do that.
Think about how this bill is structured. It’s a blank check; open ended funding for anyone who claims they attempted to obtain health insurance. Providing health insurance to a person retroactively is like giving care insurance coverage to a person after they’ve had a wreck. Insurance doesn’t work that way in the real world.
Some will say this bill is the compassionate thing to do – but it isn’t. The compassionate thing to do is to recognize and address the underlying problems with Maryland’s health insurance system. This bill doesn’t do that.
It’s time to say goodbye to the mindset that simply throwing taxpayer’s money at a problem is compassionate or a measure of how much we care. Compassion applied without competence and common sense has led us to this failure. What Maryland needs now is compassion coupled with competence; compassion coupled with common sense; and compassion coupled with a health insurance system that actually works. This bill doesn’t fulfill those needs. All it does is sweep Maryland’s health insurance problems under the rug; and that’s not compassion, its cowardice.
- Del. Herb McMillan