Thursday, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the emergency legislation he sought to provide health insurance to Marylanders unable to acquire coverage through Maryland's health insurance exchange. The failures of the state's implementation efforts, led by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, have the been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate even before the legislative session started.
As I predicted last week, the GOP opposition to the measure in the House of Delegates was much more strident that that put up by Republicans leaders in the state Senate.
Tuesday's House of Delegates vote was along party lines with all but one of the House Republicans voting against a bill they considered a bailout of the O'Malley administration's bureaucratic failures. Del. Warren Miller (R-Howard) argued on his Facebook page that "the state has wasted $170,000,000 on this, the HGO chair just told us this blank check (ie bill) might cost Marylanders another $100,000,000, but isn't really sure what it will cost." Other House Republicans echoed the sentiment that the costs of the legislation were unknown and would likely only worsen what was already a fiasco.
Additionally, House Republicans argued that the bailout was nothing more than political cover for state Democratic leaders, particularly Lt. Gov. Brown, who were responsible for the exchange's failures. Former House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell (R-Calvert) told the Baltimore Sun that "The people who screwed this up aren’t being held accountable." This argument was made all the more poignant as the promise by some General Assembly leaders that there would be hearings and an investigation during this year's session have ceased, and it now appears that it will be well into the summer before Marylanders might have a full accounting of what went wrong with the state's health care rollout.
Of course, despite the unified and determined opposition of House Republicans, the bill was forced through by the large Democratic majority who are eager to sweep the failures of the health care exchange under the rug.
In this critical election year, however, Republican Delegates were able to make a clear distinction between their vision of responsible and accountable governance and the failing and reckless health care policy foisted upon Marylanders by Governor O'Malley, Lieutenant Governor Brown and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly.
--Greg Kline is a co-founder and contributing editor for Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. A Maryland attorney, Greg was part of the legal team that defeated the General Assembly's effort to fire the Public Service Commission in 2006. He is a former Republican candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates and for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. His Red Maryland posts appear here regularly.