The first hearing in the House Insurance Committee happened this morning on the state health plan bailout bill passed this week by the Senate. After requests for time to do amendments and lots of questions from members, further consideration of the bill was put off until next Tuesday at 11am, again in the House Insurance Committee. Two of the most surprising things today:
Majority Leader Hugh Holliman indicated that the House and Senate were now working on another bill that would do “long-term” fixes to the state health plan. That’s the first time this has come up and is a positive sign – what the Senate has done so far has been anything but carefully considered and actually harms the plan in the long-term by sharply increasing premiums for dependents. However, why do anything in this first House bill then other than appropriate the additional money necessary to keep the plan running for a few more months until there can be more in-depth discussion about the critical issues?
- Almost every time this bill came up in the Senate, either state health plan director Jack Walker or the bill sponsor was saying it needed to be passed by April 1 or disaster – the plan would stop paying its bills and we wouldn’t save enough money. Putting this bill off for a week puts the next hearing to March 31. Holliman then stated the bill needs to be considered by the House Appropriations committee. Then it would go to the House floor. That puts any potential passage in the House well after April 1, not to mention the following House/Senate conference committee, passage again in both House and Senate of any compromise, and consideration and signing by the Governor. I guess that April 1 deadline wasn’t so firm after all.