The House Republican Caucus responded to the Governor’s proposed health care legislation, and presented caucus legislation and guiding principles of health care reform.
“The O’Malley administration is determined to be first out of the gate in implementing Obamacare” said House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell. “We’re being asked by Governor O’Malley to engage in what may very well be a massive waste of time and taxpayer funds to create a new unit of government, with new spending, in order to implement federal legislation that is currently under judicial review. Regardless of how the courts ultimately rule, there is ample time to examine all of the options and come up with a reasonable and comprehensive solution.”
The package of Administration health care legislation was heard in the Health and Government Operations committee on Tuesday. The Health Care Freedom Act of 2011 (HB 880), sponsored by the Minority Leader, Delegate Smigiel, and the entire Republican caucus, was introduced on February 11, and has not yet been assigned a hearing date.
“The Health Care Freedom Act ensures our citizens will have the right to make their own health care decisions, including decisions on how to purchase and obtain health care services” said Delegate Michael Smigiel (District 36), the lead co-sponsor of HB 880. “By introducing and advocating for this constitutional amendment, we are not implying that we are opposed to health care reform. We are quite simply saying that the cornerstone of any such reform should be the preservation and protection of patients’ rights.”
The Health Care Freedom Act, if passed, would amend the Maryland Constitution in such a manner as to prohibit any citizen from being required to purchase a particular health care plan, ensure the ability of a patient to pay directly for care, and block any penalties for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage. Similar legislation has been enacted in 7 other states, and has been introduced in 19 states in the 2011 legislative session.
“As the legislature examines the issue and considers our options, we have established a set of essential principles that we hope will guide our efforts on this matter” said Delegate Nicholaus Kipke (District 31), ranking member on the Health and Government Operations Committee. “These principles focus on ensuring the provision of high quality, affordable health care services. As policy makers work on this issue, consideration must be given to all aspects of the health care delivery system in order to achieve this goal. Our efforts in this direction should guarantee a role for the private market, maintain the individual rights of our citizens, and be as transparent as possible to ensure efficiency and accountability.”
“This issue is important to all Maryland citizens, and so it is important to all Maryland legislators. It is absolutely critical that consideration be given to alternative options, and legislation isn’t simply hurried through the process in order to gain a political advantage by being the first” said Minority Whip Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “Wouldn’t it be better for Maryland to gain advantages by being the best?”