From the Floor: Del. Haddaway-Riccio’s and Del. McMillan’s Remarks During the Anthony Brown Maryland Health Care Exchange Bailout Debate

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.

JeannieontheFloorFrom 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

mcmillanonfloorThe Affordable Care Act in the US, and in MD, was sold to the people on the 4 basic premises.

  1. If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance.
  2. If you have health insurance it will cost the same or be less expensive
  3. 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.
  4. 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

House Republicans Repeat Champions of Eliminating Maryland’s Death Taxes

Annapolis, Md. – Yesterday, Delegate Susan Krebs (Carroll) with the support of House Republicans filed two bills aimed to reduce and repeal Maryland’s death taxes. Maryland is one of just two states with both an inheritance and estate tax, with Maryland’s $1 million exemption being one of the lowest in the country.

Death Tax Map

“Under current Maryland laws, families can be financially crippled by the sudden death of a family member – having to sell assets to pay Maryland’s exceptionally high death taxes,” said Delegate Susan Krebs (Carroll), lead sponsor of the bills. “Maryland’s estate taxes place an egregious burden on working families, small businesses and family farms.”

The first bill, designated as the Republican’s most favored option, would completely eliminate Maryland’s estate taxes. The second option, also supported by some Democrats, would realign Maryland’s estate tax with the Federal estate tax and raise the exemption from $1 million to $5.25 million.

According to IRS data, Maryland has lost more than $7 billion in adjusted gross income (AGI) as citizens have migrated to states such as Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia with more favorable tax climates. High death taxes coupled with nearly 80 tax, fee and toll increases under the O’Malley/Brown Administration have made Maryland one of the most expensive states to live, work, raise a family, start a business, and leave a secure future to their heirs.

“We are glad to see our Democratic colleagues coming around on this issue and finally realizing that Maryland’s tax climate is driving citizens and their resources out of this state. My Republican colleagues and I have supported the reduction and elimination of Maryland’s death taxes for the past ten sessions,” said Delegate Susan Krebs, lead sponsor of the bills. “While we believe in the complete elimination of death taxes, we will support any reduction that alleviates the crippling tax burden placed on Maryland’s citizens.”


Big Issues: Maryland’s Health Care Exchange

With the rollout of Maryland’s Health Exchange proving to be as bumpy as the brick roads in downtown Annapolis, we thought our readers might find it helpful review the legislation and votes that authorized Obamacare in Maryland.

In 2013, House Bill 228 – Maryland Health Progress Act of 2013, completed the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland by expanding Medicaid eligibility (something that could potentially cripple Maryland’s budget in years to come) and dedicating a funding source for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. As with its predecessor in 2013, this bill had overwhelming opposition from the House Republican Caucus.

In 2012, House Bill 443 – Maryland Health Benefits Exchange Act of 2012, was the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s first pass in their frenzied rush to be the first state to implement Obamacare in Maryland. It expanded the operating structure of the Health Benefit Exchange, established the framework for the (now postponed) Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange, and established the navigator programs. House Republicans vigorously opposed this legislation within the committee and on the House floor.

In 2011, House Republicans successfully amended House Bill 166 – Maryland Health Benefit Act, to temporarily delay the implementation of Obamacare in Maryland and return the issue of Obamacare to the General Assembly the following year for a full vote of the General Assembly. The bill’s title did not change during the amendment process, so it could easily be mistaken for an implementation bill when, in fact, it slowed the implementation and required the General Assembly to re-visit the issue the following year. As previously mentioned, our caucus members opposed those subsequent bills. Had our amendments not been adopted unelected government

bureaucrats would have had carte blanche authority to spend taxpayer money on the exchange without the structure of the exchange being given a full vote of the General Assembly.  Additionally, the legislation was amended by House Republicans to include language to protect the private market.

House Republican Caucus Congratulates Delegate Herb McMillan on Election as Vice Chair of Anne Arundel County Delegation

mcmillanAnnapolis, Md. – The House Republican Caucus is proud to congratulate Delegate Herb McMillan on his unanimous election as Vice Chairman of the Anne Arundel County Delegation today. Delegate Cathy Vitale (R-Severna Park) nominated Delegate McMillan. Delegate Barbara Frush (D-District 21) and Delegate Nic Kipke (R-Pasadena) seconded the nomination. Delegate Kipke cited McMillan’s’ fiscal expertise, record of accomplishment, and ability to work across party lines. Delegate McMillan will serve alongside fellow caucus member, Delegate Steve Schuh, who is Chairman of the Anne Arundel County Delegation.

House Republicans Start 2014 Session with Emphasis on Tax Relief

Annapolis – Today, the House Republican Caucus began the work of the 2014 Legislative Session by affirming their leadership team and commitment to presenting alternatives to the high taxes being pushed by the majority party in Annapolis.

The House Republican Caucus re-elected Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga by unanimous acclamation. The leadership team was nominated by Delegate Ron George of Anne Arundel County. The nomination was seconded by Delegate Justin Ready of Carroll County.

“I appreciate the support of the Republican members in selecting me as their leader. We are united in passing tax relief this session to help Maryland families,” said Delegate Kipke. “High taxes and fees are harming so many households and many lifelong Marylanders are fleeing our state to avoid this unfair tax burden. This session Republicans have a laser-like focus on reducing taxes on behalf of all Marylanders.”

During the first floor session of 2014, House Republicans nominated Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke as Speaker of the House of Delegates.

Delegate LeRoy Myers made the nomination saying, “As the minority party in the Maryland House of Delegates, we look for the opportunity to vote FOR something rather than against it. While we deeply respect Speaker Busch, we hold a very different view on the policies that are best for the citizens of the state of Maryland. To that end, we feel it is time to nominate a member of the House who best represents the views of the minority party.”

“This session we are committed to championing better solutions for a better Maryland,” commented Delegate Szeliga. “Our caucus will continue to stand united to protect Maryland’s citizens from calls for higher taxes and overreaches by their government.”

House and Senate Republicans Stand AGAINST More Debt and Stand Up FOR Maryland’s Families

Annapolis – House & Senate Republicans on the Spending Affordability Committee yesterday voted for a reduction in Maryland’s debt of $375 million and to require Governor Martin O’Malley to submit a budget of 0% growth.

Democrats on the Spending Affordability Committee rejected both Republican proposals and voted to accelerate state spending by 4% and increase the state debt ceiling by $75 million.

“Today, we learned from legislative staff that Maryland faces a shortfall of $600 million,” said Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley.  “With this daunting challenge of balancing Maryland’s budget, we need to exert fiscal discipline and stop increasing state spending and debt.”

“In the next few years Maryland will be facing some significant challenges covering payments on the debt accrued by the O’Malley-Brown Administration,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke. “We have the responsibility to our taxpayers to slow this bus down and find a way to pay for our existing debt before we take on any more.”

“Governor O’Malley received a huge Christmas gift today by the sanctioning of higher spending and increased debt under the guise of ‘spending affordability,’” said Senate Minority Whip Joe Getty.  “By doing so, we reduced the options for a future governor to solve Maryland’s structural deficit burden because we’ve hamstrung future budgets with higher baseline spending and significant debt service.”

“After nearly 80 increases in taxes, tolls, and fees over the last seven years it is irresponsible to lay the foundations for yet more tax increases,” said Delegate Addie Eckardt. “Voting to expand our debt is basically voting to increase the tax burden faced by Maryland families; maybe not today, but certainly in the not-so-distant future.”

“Maryland’s families can ill-afford yet another tax increase,” said Kipke.  “Supporting these increases is a disservice to Maryland’s families, many of whom can’t increase their personal spending due to additional taxes and fees.  If they can’t increase their spending, the state shouldn’t either.”

House Republican Leadership Issues Statement on Del. Steve Hershey’s Appointment to the State Senate

HersheyWe congratulate Delegate Steve Hershey on his appointment to the State Senate. He has been a dedicated colleague and member of the House Republican Caucus and we wish him all the best in this new role. We have no doubt that he will continue to be steadfast representative and advocate for the citizens of District 36.