Legislation that would create a single-payer healthcare system in Delaware was stricken this week after opponents misinterpreted the intent behind the filing of the legislation.When House Bill 392 was filed earlier this month, lead sponsor Rep. John Kowalko said that he had no intention of moving forward with the legislation, but simply wanted to start a public dialogue on the issue. Opponents believed that the bill was being rushed through the General Assembly, even after House Majority Leader Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf – who helps set the agenda – stated publicly that the bill would not be worked this year. To quell these concerns, Rep. Kowalko struck HB 392, which means that the legislation no longer exists and cannot be revisited. The legislative session ends on June 30, at which point no new legislation can be introduced.Part of the "public dialogue" that Representatives Kowalko and Earl Jaques, along with Insurance Commissioner candidate Mitch Crane were so interested in having did not go quite as planned.
Jaques was embarrassed when he could not produce the calculations to prove that the bill's funding mechanism would actually raise the necessary funds, and there is still an outstanding FOIA request to the Secretary of Finance to see if Kowalko and Jaques ever actually had a feasibility study done. There was also the point that Jaques immediately started backtracking by assuring his senior constituents that he would let them keep their own insurance.
Kowalko wasn't happy about the fact that he was called on the fact that this was really a very old bill recycled for grandstanding purposes, as well as his use of an identical tactic to help elect Karen Weldin Stewart in 2008, and became so intemperate with critics that he started referring to them as "inbreds."
Meanwhile, Mitch Crane, the only person to support the bill who is actually running for office with real opponents, first supported HB 392, then within a day said he wasn't even sure that Delaware was large enough to support a standalone system, or that we should even attempt such a plan before seeing what Vermont does in 2014 or 2017.
With the striking of the bill, Mitch has now conveniently scrubbed his candidate website of all references to single-payer health insurance in Delaware.
It's almost as if the whole mess never happened, isn't it? Or, alternatively, it's almost as if this was an abortive attempt to give Mitch Crane something to run on . . . .
A final point worth remembering: it was Libertarians this time around, not the GOPers who had barely even read the bill, who set this chain of events into motion.