Legislative Update From DU 1/19/2018

The legislative session started a little over a week ago now, and already we are seeing some powerful legislative measures coming up through the process. Here we hope to list some of the bills that are coming up, who is sponsoring them, and to briefly describe what they will do. All of these bills will be of focus for the 2018 LARC project that is already underway.

Pinterest.com

HB 302, the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, was introduced this past Tuesday by Rep Bentz with additional sponsors Sen. Henry and Reps Longhurst, Heffernan and Kowalko. This bill would amend the Delaware code as it relates to gun ownership for people with mental illness by drawing a line in the sand on who can own a gun after being diagnosed with mental health issues. Specifically, it states that anyone, including juveniles, who has been found not  guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill, or mentally incompetent to stand trial should be added to the list of people with mental health issues prohibited from owning a firearm. It also adds a mechanism for police to confiscate firearms if “an individual is demonstrating behaviors that a mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital believes are dangerous.” Of course, this is after a proper investigation by the police, and there is a petition process that must be followed or the firearms must be returned after 60 days.

PBS.org

A second piece of firearm legislation, this one dealing with munitions, is HB 300, presented by Rep. Longhurst  with Sens McDowell, Townsend and Reps Heffernan, Baumbach and Potter as additional sponsors. This bill makes it a Class E felony to sell, transfer, buy, receive or possess a bump stock or other device designed to accelerate the rate of fire for a semiautomatic rifle. Yes, this is the same device that was used in the Las Vegas shooting.

Also presented this week in the House was a bill to return the Realty Transfer tax to its pre-2017 level, following a 1% increase last year. The increase supposedly came after Realty lobbying groups doomed an attempt to add additional tax brackets to the Delaware Tax Code through HB 240. This bill is sponsored by Rep Ramone, with support from Sen Delcollo and Reps Briggs King, Hensley, Kenton and Wilson. Interestingly, the only Democrat on this bill is Senator Marshall, who is facing stiff competition in his race for re-election this year.

Surely, everyone has heard about HB 3, presented April of last year, which provides for 12 weeks of paid leave for state employees. As if the GOP answer to this bill, HB 283 provides an extension for full time state employees, including teachers, granting them an additional 6 weeks of unpaid leave following the discharge of a newborn baby. This bill was introduced by Briggs King, with additional support from Sen Richardson and Rep Hensley.

FOX61.com

Last but not least on the House side, HB 293 was introduced as yet another attempt from Delaware Republicans to undercut unions throughout the state by getting rid of our state’s Prevailing Wage Laws. No Democrats have joined this bill introduced by Rep Briggs King, with additional sponsors Sen Hocker and Rep Gray. This bill would eliminate the study of how the prevailing wage survey should be improved, remove the Prevailing Wage Advisory Committee, and  replace the method of setting the prevailing wage with a method based on payroll information being provided to the Department of Labor.

www.prescriptionassistance.us

On the Senate side, SB 148 was introduced to restore funding for the Delaware Prescription Drug Payment Assistance Program, after it was cut last year in the budget crisis. This could be a result of the fall out after two seniors took their lives in lower Delaware, allegedly after not being able to afford their medications any longer. Pressure to restore the program started almost immediately after it was cut, and all Democrats, and many Republicans have signed onto the bill. It was introduced by Sen McBride, with additional support from Sens Poore and Marshall, and Reps Heffernan, Osienski, and Kowalko.

Finally, there has been a constitutional amendment put onto the docket in another attempt to  implement an Equal Rights Amendment into the Delaware Constitution. However, that deserves its own post, which will be up shortly for sharing online!

 

Delaware’s bail system is broken. Now’s our chance to fix it: Dialogue Delaware

Holidays are a time for family, but sadly in Delaware, there are around 700 families not able to celebrate together because of our broken legal system.

Around 700 mothers, fathers, brothers, or sisters weren’t home for Christmas because they simply can’t afford to make bail. These men and women have not been convicted of any crime, and many are in jail for traffic violations or misdemeanors.

With our current system, the wealthy are able to walk away after posting bail. Meanwhile, those who are working multiple jobs, caring for family, or otherwise struggling just to get by find bail is often far too high. This leaves them with very few options, the most common of which is to simply sit in prison until trial. 

The disparities and economic impacts of our current system are far-reaching and deeply affecting our communities.

In Delaware, we don’t have a jail solely for pre-trial detainees. So, anyone waiting to have their day in court goes to prison with the general prison population. Economically speaking, this practice is a disaster.

The average cost of imprisonment in Delaware in 2012, according to the Department of Corrections, was about $90 a day per prisoner. This number does not decrease when the person hasn’t actually been convicted of a crime. In fact, it increases, due to the intake and release procedures that have to be done.

Editorial: Holidays remind us to fight hunger

Letters to the Editor: GOP tax plan lets us eat cake

Given that there are currently around 700 people being detained because they cannot afford bail, this practice costs the state around $63,000 a day! $63,000 to detain people who haven’t even been convicted of a crime, but are too poor to afford bail.

However, the cost of our current system does not end there. The cost of our 25 percent failure-to-appear rate, caused by how we currently rate risk and set bail, is even higher. This includes the cost of rescheduling court dates, issuing warrants, the costs to the community when a person who failed to appear commits another crime. Not to mention the risk to the officer who has to track down a person with a warrant-which is one of the most dangerous jobs an officer has.

The problem isn’t just economical, it’s also a civil rights issue. More than half (56 percent) of those in pre-trial detention are African American —despite African Americans making up only 22 percent of Delaware’s population. Also, African American and Latino detainees spend more than a week longer in prison than white detainees.

Research shows that the longer a person stays in jail, the more likely they are to return to prison in the future. Just two to three days longer in prison increases the chances of recidivism within two years by 17 percent. Moreover, the effects of this faulty bail system are felt by families.

Those living paycheck to paycheck cannot afford even the lowest bail, and a few days in jail could leave dependent loved ones left to fend for themselves. Delaware’s current bail system values money over public safety, individual rights, and fiscal responsibility.

Yet, there is hope. Next year, with the help of a broad coalition of organizations across the state, Delaware has the chance to take a first step in resolving one of the least equitable parts of our criminal justice system. House Bill 204, supported by police authorities, the Attorney General, non-profits and activists alike, looks to change the way we treat people awaiting their day in court.

With the passage of this bill, judges would have a better risk assessment policy that would protect our communities from the most dangerous offenders, while allowing people who are active participants in our society to return to work and their families. It would substantially decrease the amount of money we spend detaining people who cannot afford to make bail, and save taxpayers thousands of dollars a year. Finally, it will help eliminate some of the most egregious racial disparities found in the Delaware legal system.

However, this can only happen with your help. Please make it your New Year’s resolution to help fix our broken criminal justice system by helping us pass HB 204.

Shyanne Miller is co-coordinator of the bail reform committee of the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow. Dustyn Thompson is outreach director for Delaware United.

Delaware End of Life Options Act: Everything You Need To Know


HB 160: The “Delaware End of Life Options Act”

Legis.Delaware.Gov

Representative Paul Baumbach has reintroduced his version of a number of states’ “Death With Dignity” legislation. The Newark area Representative originally introduced it as HB 150 in 2015, without a single cosponsor, and it was tabled in committee. In 2018, however, the Delaware End of Life Options Act, HB 160 has four cosponsors: Representative Bryon Short (D-7), Senator David Sokola (D-8), Representative Earl Jacques (D-27) and Senator Margaret Henry (D-2). Several other legislators have voiced support for the new bill, and it is close to gaining the votes needed to pass the House this year. HB160 passed out of committee in June with a vote of 8-6 and will be considered on the House floor in this legislative session. As we approach the vote, there are bound to be questions about the bill, and detractors will voice their opinions. Let us clear up some common misconceptions about Death With Dignity (DWD) legislation, explain what HB 160 does and does not allow and detail how the process plays out. Key to understanding the legislation is to look at the facts, not the myths.


How does the process work from start to finish?

First, the patient must be diagnosed with a terminal disease and have a prognosis of six months or less to live. The patient orally requests the medication from their attending physician. Physicians who are willing to participate must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis, assess the individual’s mental health, determine that the individual is making an informed decision free from pressure or coercion, and educate them on the DELOA as well as other end-of-life care options. Physicians who choose not to participate in providing medical aid in dying must still document the individual’s initial request, refer them to another provider and transfer their records, including the documentation of the initial request.

A second consulting physician must also assess the individual to confirm the terminal diagnosis, prognosis of six months or less and that the patient is capable of making informed health care decisions.  If either physician has concerns about the individual’s ability to make a rational informed health care decision or that they are suffering from impaired judgement, they must refer them to a mental health professional for further evaluation. No prescription may be written until the mental health professional concludes the individual is capable and not suffering from impaired judgement. No sooner than fifteen days after the first oral request, the individual must repeat their request for the medication again from their attending physician.

After the two oral requests, the patient must submit a written request to their attending physician. The request is made via a template set forth in the legislation, and must be signed by two witnesses. The witnesses must meet several qualifications to sign the document. No more than one of them may be a relative; a beneficiary; an owner, operator, or employee of the patient’s healthcare facility; or the patient’s attending physician.

Once each of these steps has been completed and documented, the physician sends the request to the pharmacy. Finally, after 48 hours the medication is available.

At any time, the patient can rescind their request for medical aid-in-dying medication. The first request is valid only for one year, after which time the prescription cannot be granted based on that request. Instead, the process must start again.

If either the attending physician or consulting physician determines that the individual does not meet the eligibility criteria, is not acting voluntarily, is suffering from impaired judgement due to a mental health issue or any other reason, or is not making an informed decision, then that issue must be resolved before proceeding or the request is denied.

Physicians have many responsibilities throughout the process, as detailed in the full bill here. In short, the physician’s responsibilities include not only determining the terminally ill individual’s eligibility for medical aid in dying, but thoroughly educating the patient about their end-of-life care options and the possible outcomes of each, storage and use of medications, as well as disposal of unused medications. Additional physician responsibilities set forth by the standard of care including exploring the reasons behind the request for medical aid in dying, counseling the patient appropriately and ensuring that they have a support system in place so that their care needs are met.

As we have seen in Oregon, often, the life-ending medication stays in a secure location, never used. However, when the medication is used, individuals report that it is usually taken with family and other loved ones present, and the patient falls asleep quickly and quietly, then passes away peacefully.(3)


What are some common misconceptions about DWD legislation?

Depressed patients will be able to take their own lives: False

        Under HB 160, two physicians must assess a terminally ill patient’s mental health before prescribing medication that would end their suffering. If either physician has concerns about the patient’s ability to make a rational informed health care decision or that they are suffering from impaired judgement, they must refer the patient to a mental health professional for further evaluation. No prescription may be written until the mental health professional concludes the patient is capable and not suffering from impaired judgement.

In addition, medical aid in dying is not suicide.  People who seek medical aid in dying want to live but are stricken with life-ending illnesses. They are not choosing to die; the disease is taking their life. They are simply choosing not to prolong a difficult and painful dying process.

http://www.suicidology.org/

The American Association of Suicidology puts it this way: “The American Association of Suicidology recognizes that the practice of physician aid in dying, also called physician assisted suicide, Death with Dignity and medical aid in dying, is distinct from the behavior that has been traditionally and ordinarily described as “suicide,” the tragic event our organization works so hard to prevent.”

With the combination of fail-safes contained within the bill to prevent someone with mental health issues from being able to receive life-ending medication, it is unlikely that they would pursue this method of self-expiration when there are far easier ways to take their own life that do not require at least thirty days-which this bill requires.

Sick, elderly, or disabled patients will choose to take their own lives so they don’t burden their families: False

The “burden” fear is one of the most common arguments raised when discussing medical aid-in-dying legislation, and has been a staple lobbying tool against the measures in most states. First and foremost, age and disability are not qualifying factors for eligibility under the DELOA or any other medical aid-in-dying law. An individual must be terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less, mentally capable and physically able to self-ingest the medication. Physicians follow the letter of the law for its safe harbor protections, and they can easily distinguish between a person living with a disability and a person dying of cancer (the most common diagnosis as demonstrated in all of the authorized states) or other terminal illness. Careful studies of the law’s 20-year record in Oregon show that fears it would harm people with disabilities  or the elderly, frail or uninsured, or any marginalized groups have no merit.

Life insurance will not pay out for people who choose this method, further straining the family: False

Under HB 160, life insurance policies cannot modify pay-outs in any way if a patient chooses to use the Delaware End of Life Options Act (DELOA). In fact, a section of the bill mandates that the death certificate must list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death. The life-ending methods entailed in programs like the DELOA are usually reported as peaceful and with a higher level of closure for the family than alternative methods.

https://www.compassionandchoices.org/

Health insurance companies will pay for the medication for the DELOA, but deny possible life-extending procedures: False

There is no connection between the denial of expensive or experimental treatments and the coverage of medical aid in dying as an end-of-life option. A research article published in the New England Journal of Medicine and co-authored by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a public opponent of medical aid in dying, concludes that insurers have no financial incentive to pressure patients to accelerate their deaths. Regardless of whether a state has authorized medical aid in dying, insurance providers cover treatments that are deemed effective and proven, and not those considered unnecessary, experimental.

In a combined 40 years of experience with medical aid in dying across six states, there has not been a single proven incidence of an insurance company denying treatment because of the availability of medical aid in dying. Additionally, it is illegal for anyone, including an insurance company, to coerce an individual to request or use medical aid in dying. This myth is borne of misreporting in Oregon news some years ago.

More patients will elect to end their lives, rather than fighting a disease: Mostly False

Ultimately, it is up to a patient who meets this bill’s qualifications to decide whether or not they want to fight through their final days, or die peacefully at home with family. If they qualify for the program, individual patients will be allowed that choice. Interestingly, in Oregon–the home of DWD law–approximately 33% of patients ultimately do not use the medication(1). many of them never even filling the actual prescription. Most patients report that they desire not only for the option, but the sense of control, which ultimately gives them the energy to keep fighting(2)  and live their last days to the fullest. The peace of mind that provides is palliative in and of itself.

The medication will fall into the wrong hands or be abused: False

http://www.wbur.org/

HB 160 includes the requirement the attending physician educate the terminally ill individual not only on the use of the medication but safekeeping, storage and disposal of unused medications as well. The physician sends the prescription directly to the pharmacy. A family member or friend can pick up the prescription for a patient and in some states it can be mailed.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and FDA decide which category or schedule every drug falls within. Then the rules for how the drugs are dispensed are the same for all drugs within that category. The primary medication that is used for medical aid in dying has been assigned by the DEA as a Schedule II drug. In this case, a Schedule II drug must be signed for; the prescription must be brought in person or submitted through an approved e-signature.


What does HB 160 actually do?

In all fifty states, three options are recognized as constitutional rights for terminally patients who have run out of curative options; the right to refuse medical treatment;(3) the right to stop eating and drinking, or the refusal of nutrition and hydration; and the right to palliative or terminal sedation, a medically-induced vegetative state usually accompanied by the cessation of lifesaving treatments. These limited options keep the power with the physician and are not always quick or painless but they are guaranteed in every state, without any legal risk to the medical community. Alternatively, for patients in a coma or vegetative state, advance directives generally are accepted by the medical community to relay the desire for ending suffering if the patient is physically unable to express that desire.

HB 160 expands choice at the end of life for terminally ill patients by authorizing medical aid in dying. It provides the same protections to the medical community that are extended in the circumstances mentioned above, so long as the physicians practicing adhere to the standard of medical care and the process outlined in the legislation.


What can I do now?

WNYT.com

        HB 160 has a solid chance of passage during the 2018 legislative session, but legislators in both chambers need assurance that the bill is a step forward for terminally ill Delawareans. Although no one in the right frame of mind wants to die, we all will face that certainty at one time or another. Therefore, the question is not if one desires to die, but how one desires to die. When facing a terminal disease, we all deserve the option of ending our lives in a manner that is consistent with our personal wishes and spiritual beliefs.  This is a personal choice, and should be kept between patients, medical professionals, and loved ones.

While medical aid in dying is a deeply emotional and hotly debated topic we are unlikely to resolve in our time, we must all respect and legally protect each other’s individual liberties and choices. Delaware cannot afford to let another important issue become too divisive, and once again neglect to act. Surely, looking at how far humanity has come on many social issues, we can come together and find a way to protect personal liberty while celebrating and cherishing life.

Please, contact your State legislators today, and ask them to support HB 160 when it comes up for vote. Legislative Hall in Dover: 302-744-4310

 


References:

1 Why Oregon Patients Request Assisted Death: Family Members’ Views. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(2), 154-157. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0476-x

2http://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT/Documents/year19.pdf

3https://www.compassionandchoices.org/information-on-medical-aid-in-dying-for-people-with-terminal-illness/

 

New School Board Legislation Causing A Stir

 

By: Dustyn Thompson

December 12, 2017

Legis.Delaware.Gov

Legislation put forward today by Representative Paul Baumbach is stirring up quite a bit of controversy on an already chaotic scene. Recently, there has been a disagreement on the future of the Christina School District, specifically with regard to the schools within the City of Wilmington. Governor Carney’s office and the Governor himself has clashed with some of the Christina School Board members on more than one occasion. The disagreement mainly surrounds the issue of what needs to be done to ensure a better, more effective learning environment for the children of Wilmington.

You can read more from Delaware Online about the battle between these two entities here.

Regardless of where you fall on this issue, perhaps a majority of the suspicion surrounding Representative Baumbach’s legislation stems from the timing of its filing aligning with the disagreement surrounding the Christina Proposal. When asked about the timing Representative Baumbach pointed out that he has been trying to reform the school boards in Delaware for a number of legislative sessions, and has been met with refusals every time. He went on to say that the Christina Proposal could be in play for months, and that he did not want to sit on his hands and wait, and thereby miss the December pre-file dates for the upcoming session.

DelawareOnline.com

This does not change the optics of the scenario, which has led to several people in the education community coming out against the legislation. A number of online rebuttals have viewed this legislation as a way to go after Christina School Board Member John Young, for his public disagreements with the Christina Proposal. However, Representative Baumbach points out that this legislation was drafted in May and finalized in June earlier this year  a fact that was confirmed as the date is on the legislation in the bottom right corner. Showing that this legislation was put together long before the Christina Proposal was on the table, or even in processing. The Representative from Newark has also proposed legislation that would effectively lower the term length of School Board Members to 3 years in the past, and is now suggesting 4 year terms in additional legislation that he will introduce this year.

“Right now, if a school board member gets elected, and then never shows up to any meetings, there is nothing that anyone can do to get rid of that person for another five years,” Representative Baumbach stated when questioned about the intent of this legislation. He continued on to mention the case of the School Board member who was found guilty in court of using racial slurs in public within earshot of young children, and was allowed to finish her term, a full year and a half, without recourse.

Source: MSNBC.com

A central issue with the legislation is the idea that an appointed official will be able to open the process to remove an elected official without the community of that area having a say in the process. By doing this, it is possible that the Board of Education could usurp the will of the electorate, and allow the School Board to appoint a new member at any time. This person would then serve on the board until the following election cycle (concluding in the following November post-removal), when a new election would be initiated. Even if the process finds that the School Board Member was innocent, this could be a means of casting aspersions on a troublesome Board Member’s character, making it harder for them to be re-elected. When asked about his point of view on the legislation, John Young, a Christina School Board Member, says that he is concerned that this legislation as written could be used as a means to allow political enemies to remove each other from office, and take the power away from the electorate.

Source: http://joeysfranchisegroup.ca/

 

It is for this reason that we urge that the process be initiated only following a petition from the community of the district in question. No appointed or elected official should be allowed a process that would circumvent the principles of a democracy. If the crimes against an elected official are so egregious that such a long term cannot be finished, then the process must be at the behest of the people, not an elected or appointed official. Furthermore, with the length of the term being the highest outside of a US Senator and the need for greater accountability, reforms should focus on increasing turnout. It has been suggested that shorter terms that coincide with midterm and presidential elections be implemented for this office. Neither of which are inherently bad ideas for the future of our children, and are certainly more akin to the type of legislation that would ensure greater accountability. As it is written, this legislation sets quite the precedence in how we will look at and handle our democracy in Delaware in the future.

Representative Baumbach has stated he is open to suggestions on how to hold the school boards accountable and to make sure that the will of the people remains at the forefront of this legislation. If you have recommendations he can be reached at Paul.baumbach@state.de.us

 

What A Rush: The MO of John Carney

 

Dustyn Thompson

December 12, 2017

 

Delaware is a unique place, where we have an increased ability to change our political landscape, due to our small size and increased access to our elected officials. However, to affect change, we need to be present and speak out whenever possible. Delawareans have that opportunity right now on many fronts, all of which desperately need our attention. On two particular fronts, Governor Carney is either pushing or allowing important policy changes to be rushed through without adequate public input. The regulatory process for the modification of the Coastal Zone Act (CZA), and plans for the City of Wilmington school system, are both in the public input phase. But neither of these issues are receiving the time or attention they deserve.

Right now, State leadership continues the hurried and opaque process that played out in the writing and passage of the CZA modification bill. During the committee and legislative process through which HB 190 was drafted and passed, sponsors and supporters placated the bill’s detractors with assurances that the future regulatory process would be transparent and would engage the communities most affected by potential coastal zone changes.

Source: DelawareStateNews.com

Yet, as of today, only two scheduled meetings have been held to gather public input before starting to define the regulatory process. What’s more, both meetings were scheduled with only two weeks’ notice and during the holiday season. This is no way to engage the community or gather input from people whose lives could change in numerous ways, including potential serious health risks. Understandably, many Delawareans do not know the intricacies of this regulatory process, or the original or modified CZA, but they do know how they feel about potentially polluting companies entering their neighborhoods. They know the concerns they have, and regulations should revolve around those concerns.

In two ways, you can help ensure that communities near the newly reopened coastal zone sites have a voice in this process. First, you can sign this petition from Network Delaware: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdMmQ8yZqGoHWG6wWym6mZqZ_apjD0HNBIMHfUqdNMKgeuAvQ/viewform?c=0&w=1 . Second, if you live in or around Claymont, Southbridge, Delaware City, or the Route 9 corridor, call your legislators and ask them to host additional meetings for the public to provide input about CZA regulations.

Source: thecenterforchilddevelopment.com/

A similarly sad scenario is playing out regarding the future of education in the city of Wilmington. Governor Carney, along with some Christina School Board (CSB) members and education officials, are rushing through plans to condense the number of Wilmington schools to two K-8 schools, eliminating three schools. (The former three schools would be repurposed for non-educational activities.) This plan met with a wave of controversy after the News Journal released a draft of the related memorandum of understanding (MOU). Many parents came to the first meeting to discuss proposed changes with the Governor and the Superintendent—including concerns about larger class sizes, overworked teachers, and students’ safety. However, in truly bullish style, Governor Carney dismissed the parents, replying that “nothing is set in stone.” The Governor implied that proposed changes were still being reviewed, but two days later, the MOU to be voted upon by the CSB was released—virtually unchanged, addressing almost none of the parents’ pressing concerns.

Again, public input should not be solicited in this manner, with one paltry meeting before a vote. The CSB is set to meet tonight and vote on the current draft of this policy, with voting on the final draft to take place on December 12th. The future of Wilmington’s children will be decided with one public meeting with two weeks of preparation—similar to how the future of our coastline will be decided with two public meetings with two weeks of preparation. Clearly, whenever Governor Carney plans action that could result in blowback, he severely restricts the timeframe for public feedback and debate. If Governor Carney continues down this path, there is only one solution when he is up for reelection in 2020.

          Regarding plans for Wilmington’s schools, you can attend the vote and speak to the CSB members if you show up before 6:30pm tonight at Bayard Middle School. Even if you agree that Wilmington children should be shoveled into two schools, surely you must also agree that Delawareans should have more input into the process. We ask that no one support closing the schools until citizens give their feedback and it is thoroughly considered by officials.


Contact Info for Legislators in the Coastal Zone Areas:

Bryon Short​ – 302-744-4297                               Deb Heffernan​ – 302-744-4351

Sean Matthews​ – 302-744-4351                         Stephanie Bolden – 302-744-4351

JJ Johnson – 302-744-4351                                Mike Mulrooney​ – 302-744-4351

Val Longhurst​ – 302-744-4351                            Harris McDowell​ – 302-744-4147

Margaret Rose Henry​ – 302-744-4191                Nicole Poore – 302-744-4164 ​


Contact for Governor Carney

Wilmington – (302) 577-3210

Dover – (302) 744-4101


Contact for Christina School Board

Email for all Board Members: CSDBoardMembers@christina.k12.de.us 

Email and Contact for more info about Christina School Board: Kerry McGinnis, Specialist – (302) 552-2653.

 

Delmarva Strikes Again, Will You Strike Back?

Energy Prices In Delaware: What You Need To Know, And What You Can Do

 

http://www.usfunds.com/

We struggle to get companies to come to Delaware, and we struggle even more to get companies to stay in Delaware. Repeatedly, the State has bent over backwards and handed over limited taxpayer dollars just to “stay competitive” with neighboring states. For this and other reasons, Delawareans cannot afford yet another rate hike by Delmarva Power, a highly profitable company. In 2015, Pepco Holdings, Delmarva Power’s parent company, made $1.74 billion dollars in profit (1). Now, to recoup normal business expenses and avoid dipping into their massive profits, Delmarva Power wants to raise utility bills an average of $120 per year for most consumers, according to Delaware Online (2). This is simply unacceptable.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BloomEnergy

This would be yet another rate hike from Delmarva Power, impacting struggling Delaware families and individuals. Delmarva Power increased electricity bills in 2014 as well (3). Further, taxpayers already will be paying for the failed job creator Bloom Energy through 2033, although the promised jobs intended to be created by this surcharge never panned out (4).

http://www.baltimoresun.com/

We cannot allow Delmarva Power to increase prices simply to cover the cost of regular maintenance. Companies make profits to cover operational costs. These rate hikes hurt Delawareans struggling the most, including seniors on a fixed income and low-income individuals and families. Additionally, these hikes actually impede our ability to create jobs. One of the factors employers use to determine where they will locate their businesses is the cost of utilities, since they contribute to overhead expenses. Furthermore, our small businesses and startups already struggle to maintain their current level of employment in the face of high healthcare and utilities costs. Another Delmarva Power rate hike represents one more strike against doing business in the First State–fewer opportunities for workers to earn a decent living, more roadblocks to increasing wages.

Additionally, on a State level, we need to invest in renewable energy to help ensure more affordable and sustainable utility rates.

http://artct.org/

European Union countries that have transitioned to relying more heavily on renewable energy have recorded more consistently affordable utility rates, even when oil prices increase (5). If we want to create jobs, help preserve our planet and our State, and ensure that people can afford to pay their bills, then we need to become serious about transitioning to renewable energy.

Please tell our legislators that these rate hikes should not be allowed to continue. There are three opportunities for public comment on these rate hikes, and we encourage everyone to attend at least one meeting. See below for details. As additional information becomes available, we will continue to post on this thread.

Monday              6:00pm (Electric Public Comment Session)

October 23, 2017           Gilliam Building

                                       Multipurpose Room

                                       77 Reads Way, New Castle, DE 19720

                            8:00pm (Gas Public Comment Session)

Tuesday              6:00pm Delaware Public Service Commission

October 24, 2017           861 Silver Lake Blvd. Dover, DE 19904        

Wednesday         6:00pm Indian River Senior Center

October 25, 2017           214 Irons Ave. Millsboro, DE 19966

 

Finally, to help transition to clean energy and possibly save ourselves some money, we can all consider changing our energy supplier–different than our utility company, which is always Delmarva Power–to a renewable energy supplier. Watch this video to learn how:

 

Sources:

1 https://amigobulls.com/stocks/POM/income-statement/annual

2http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2017/08/31/delmarva-power-seeks-rate-hikes-gas-electric-bills/620841001/

3http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2014/04/03/delmarva-power-gets-million-rate-case/7253837/#_=_

4http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2016/10/29/blooms-sweetheart-deal-del-keeps-givin/92667946/

5 Krozer, Y. (2013). Cost and benefit of renewable energy in the European Union. Renewable Energy: An International Journal, 5068-73. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2012.06.014

 

Medicaid For All? A Statewide Medicaid Buy-in Option

Introduction:

As we begin discussions about reducing the skyrocketing costs of our state’s Medicaid program, surely we will review options like tort reform, whether our state should continue to participate in Medicaid expansion, along with many other related issues. However, one thing we must consider is a Medicaid Buy-In program, or MBI. Other states have had Medicaid expansions in the past, via the federal 1115 Medicaid waivers, to include people who otherwise would be ineligible for the program. But thus far, only Nevada has tried to start an MBI program such as we are suggesting. This is a brief overview of our three-part series through which we examine the possibility of an MBI program.

Already on board with an MBI program in Delaware? Great! Sign our petition to show our governor, legislators, and insurance commissioner that you will fight for a public option in Delaware!


What Ails Us?

Picture From: http://navigatingchronicillness.com

Our healthcare system is failing. No American would argue the contrary. However, exactly why our system is failing is still a topic of debate. Certainly, the ACA did not solve the problems of our nation’s healthcare system. Primarily, the fact that it is a privately-run system devised around making profit. When a huge surge of policyholders came in from subsidies and an individual mandate, the industry corrected itself by raising prices. Then, as the influx of policies built, the number of participating companies dropped. From mega-mergers to companies’ being pulled out of the marketplace entirely, the supply of policies circled the drain in the years following ACA implementation. This lack of competition had a direct effect upon the price of Delaware’s policies. In a supply and demand system, if supply decreases and demand increases prices soar. (To read more about this, please see Part 1 of our MBI Series.) So if the private marketplace failed to such a degree, what would an MBI program look like? 

Let’s end the monopoly! Sign our petition today!


What Would A Medicaid Buy-In Program Like

As previously stated, so far, only Nevada has decided to consider an MBI program. If created, it could resemble the full Medicaid program, or be a mix of various aspects from Medicaid and private insurance. The largest determinant of what the program will look like is consumer cost. If an MBI program were started in Delaware today, it would carry quite a price tag—around $650 per month. However, this would include no deductibles or co-pays, and $3 pharmaceutical costs. Although, if the federal government commits to funding the MBI, as they fund traditional Medicaid, the cost would drop to about $240 per month. (Numbers based on information from https://ballotpedia.org/Medicaid_spending_in_Delaware and Delaware.gov)  Unfortunately, federal MBI funding is very unlikely, considering the current administration.

From: http://garnetnews.com/

Instead, to reduce costs, we have several options. First, we could include some characteristics of private insurance, but to a less significant degree—including lower deductibles, small co-payments, or slightly narrower coverage for certain services. Second, we could implement a progressive pricing system, through which your income determines your program costs. Such a pricing system could be achieved by allowing individuals in lower income brackets to use the government subsidies currently provided for private policies, for the MBI program instead. However, all of this boils down to whether or not the federal government will contribute toward the costs of an MBI program. If so, and we see a surge in policyholders buying into the program, costs spread around the risk pool and premiums drop. (To read more about what the program could look like, please see Part 2 of our MBI Series.)

Sound good? First step is to show the momentum to our representatives. That’s why we need you to sign our petition so we can hand deliver it to show that Delaware wants a public option, and that we cannot wait for the federal government to act!


What could be the possible benefits, and downfalls of a Medicaid Buy-In Program?

To examine the benefits of an MBI program, we can look at what our current system costs us—including economic implications in the job market; taxpayer costs to fund the current Medicaid program; the strain on state economies to cover the uncovered; and the lack of coverage options for consumers. An MBI program in Delaware would help save on all these costs.

From: http://www.ncsl.org/

In today’s employment marketplace, jobseekers flock to industries and companies offering healthcare as part of their benefit packages. Companies not offering healthcare are at a significant disadvantage. If there were an affordable option outside of employer-based healthcare systems, smaller businesses could more easily attract quality workers, even allowing them more room in wage negotiations. Furthermore, if employees received incentives to join the MBI program, such as employer-backed Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), enrollment numbers could jump even further.

From: http://www.healthcareplainandsimple.com/

       

Admittedly, sufficient enrollees is key to the success of any MBI program, distributing program costs across many enrollees must happen to remain solvent. Currently, Medicaid consumes about 20% of the Delaware budget, while healthcare in total constitutes about 30%. A successful MBI program must offset some of these costs. If implemented properly, by opening it up to younger and healthier people first, it would do just that. It’s worth noting that one of the biggest demographic coverage gaps between Medicaid expansion and the private insurance marketplace is, in fact, young adults over the age of 26.

Adding an MBI program would create a valuable alternative to the current monopoly found in the Delaware healthcare exchange. No more surefire way exists to guarantee exorbitant prices, than to place the full product demand on one privately-run company. By adding an MBI program, we ensure that Delawareans always have at least two choices. Republicans state that we cannot eliminate consumers’ choices, and they may be correct. Yet, when we talk about choosing healthcare, they often leave out the choice of a public option. Citizens who want the government to run their healthcare, at no expense to those who choose private insurance, should have that option.

What are the possible challenges of implementing a Delaware MBI program? We could see high initial costs as the government strives to correct for the number of program applicants. But, as previously stated, if we open the program to young and healthy people first, we mitigate some of those costs. Probably the biggest issue implementing an MBI program is the uncertainty surrounding federal funding. There is a risk that if we set up an MBI in program in Delaware, the federal government could revoke the waiver and shut down the program. Also, without any federal funding commitment, prices are difficult to gauge. (To read more about the possible benefits and challenges of implementing an MBI program, please see Part 3 of our MBI Series.

Delaware deserves the choice, please sign and share our petition today on Facebook, Twitter, and with your friends and family!


In Summation:

Soon, we have to decide if healthcare is a human right or a privilege. If we declare healthcare a human right, we must ensure coverage for everyone at an affordable rate, for both the consumer and the insurers. That will, of course, necessitate significant changes to our current system. One of those changes must be creating the option of buying into a public plan. Many Republicans state that a universal healthcare system eliminates consumer choice. So let’s expand consumer choices, and allow consumers the alternative of buying into a public option. If the federal government won’t step up to the plate, let the states do it. An MBI program is one obvious solution to rising Medicaid costs in Delaware, the large consumer insurance gap, and breaking up our state’s healthcare monopoly.

If you want to get involved in pushing for a Medicaid Buy-In program for Delaware, please attend the September 7th DHSS meeting and sign our petition to look into an MBI program for Delaware: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/please-support-a-medicaid-buy-in-program-for-delaware?source=direct_link

For More information about the meeting please visit: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhcc/files/benchmarksummitfirst.pdf.

A Statewide Medicaid Buy-in Option, Part 3: The Benefits and Possible Downfalls

 


What could be the possible benefits, and downfalls of a Medicaid Buy-In Program?

       To look at the benefits of a Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) Program, first we have to examine the costs of private insurance for the state. Chief amongst these costs are: The economic implications in the job market due to the reliance on employer-based healthcare; the cost to the taxpayers to fund the current Medicaid program; the strain on the state economy to cover those left outside the realm of available subsidies; and the lack of coverage options for consumers. Each of these issues are areas we could find benefit, if we successfully implement an MBI program in Delaware. However, there are also areas where the MBI program could be construed in a negative light. Primarily, there could be a high initial cost as the system adjusts to the influx of new policies, the program could have issues in implementation, and the federal government could decide to step in and get involved.

From: http://www.ncsl.org/

       Currently, we are in the process of discussing ways that we can help foster economic growth in our state. One of the ways in which we can do that is to make it easier for businesses to start up, employ workers, and remain competitive in the employment marketplace. Healthcare ties into all of those areas. In today’s employment marketplace, job seekers are flocking to industries and companies that can offer a benefit package that includes health care. To the point that companies who do not offer healthcare benefits are at a significant disadvantage. If there were an affordable option for people, outside of the employer based health care system, then smaller businesses could have a better chance attracting the best workers. This would also give them more room to negotiate wages. Many people forget the fact that even though you only pay out $50-$75 a paycheck for healthcare, insurance companies are still charging the full premium. Your employer picks up the rest of the bill each month. Benefit packages are one of the more costly aspects of being an employer, and is a large contributor of stagnant wages in the US. Furthermore, if employers offer an incentive to join the MBI program, such as an employer backed Health Savings Account to cover the cost of your deductible, we could see the enrollment numbers jump significantly.

        The number of enrollees is key to the success of the program. Distributing the costs of the program across many enrollees is crucial for the program to remain solvent. If only a few people sign up for the program, and they happen to be predominantly unhealthy or elderly, then the cost will outweigh the revenue generated. One of the largest benefits for this program is the revenue it can generate for the state. The current cost of the Medicaid program is a huge portion of our state budget, around 20%. Healthcare in total is even higher. In order for an MBI program to succeed it actually has to offset some of the costs for our current program. If we implement the program correctly, it is highly likely that this will happen.

From: http://www.healthcareplainandsimple.com/

        Current debate over the possibility of a public option centers around the idea of implementing it by expanding programs for the elderly population first. However, that will never work in Delaware. One reason our healthcare costs are already so high is due to our higher elderly population. In order to spread the costs across the program, we have to bring in the younger generation who tend to rely less on their insurance policies. Additionally, with a greater number of enrollees the MBI the state will have the ability to negotiate prices and leverage a large pool of policyholders to make sure that their clients are being treated by all service providers. In order to do that though, the costs have to be low enough to attract consumers.

        One of the biggest demographics of the coverage gap between the Medicaid expansion and the private insurance marketplace is young adults over the age of 26. This demographic was able to stay on their parent’s policies thanks to the ACA, and most have never paid for insurance. In fact, the demographic who saw the largest gain under the ACA where the young adults who were able to stay on their parent’s policies. However, after the age of 26, the uninsured rate jumps to the highest of any demographic. Unfortunately, this demographic likely doesn’t see the benefit of paying for a product which they do not use, especially when the fine is usually cheaper. Closing this coverage gap first and foremost is actually one of the ways we can ensure the solvency of an MBI program. By bringing in this younger, healthier demographic we can spread out the costs.

From: http://www.adaaction.org/

       Finally, adding the ability to gain access to an MBI program would create a valuable alternative to the current monopoly found in the Delaware health care exchange. As of 2017, Blue Cross Blue Shield is the last remaining insurer on the Delaware Health Care Exchange. That means that all the demand flowing into the exchange is being met by only one supplier. There is no more surefire way to cause prices to skyrocket than to place the full demand of a product on one privately ran company to supply. By adding an MBI program, Delaware will always have at least two companies to choose from. Republicans state that we cannot eliminate choices for the consumer, and they are right. But, when we talk about being able to choose our health care provider, we often leave out the choice of a public option. If citizens desire the ability to choose that the government run their healthcare, at no expense to those who choose private insurance, why should anything stand in the way of that.


        So, what are the possible downfalls of an MBI program being set up in Delaware? Again, without the system already taking hold in another state, it is pure speculation as to what could go wrong. However, theories have been floating around about a national public option for years, and the consequences remain just as probable for a state-run program as they do for a national program. One of the main problems could be the high initial costs as the government strives to correct for the incoming number of people applying for the program. With an increased number of policyholders coming into the system, more administrators will be needed to handle the volume of claims and applications. This will create an immediate need for expansion of current operations in the state, and that means more money. That is why it is so important that the program be implemented correctly. If we do as many have suggested, and open the program in reverse order by age (the elderly generation first), the costs will be compounded by an influx of people who routinely use their insurance policies. If however, we open the program in ascending order by age (younger generation first), then we will introduce a demographic that ordinarily does not take advantage of their insurance, but is eager for a public system. Thus, we can mitigate some of the initial costs that theorists have subscribed to starting such a program.

         Lastly,  the biggest problem with the implementation of an MBI program is the uncertainty surrounding the commitment from the federal government. If we set up an MBI program in Delaware, and the federal government decides that they do not approve, they could revoke the waiver away and shut down the program. Moreover, without any commitment as to whether they will cover their portion of the costs for MBI policy holders, it is hard to dictate what the prices will be. Surely, as other states look towards this option, the government will feel increasing pressure to make their position clear. Until then, we have to assume that they will not chip in their portion, and set the price at the full amount. In the worse-case scenario, they do end up putting up their normal amount of funding, and the state gets to use the surplus to help bring down the cost of the program.


From: http://www.visualistan.com/

 

      The time is coming where we have to make a choice: Is healthcare a human right, or is it a privilege. If we decide it is a human right, then we must make it so everyone is covered at an affordable rate, for both the consumer and the insurers. Will that include multiple changes in our current system? Absolutely. However, one of those changes has to be the creation of at least the option of buying into a public plan. Many on the far-right state that a universal system eliminates choice, but what happened to the consumer being able to choose to buy into a state-run program? If we have to keep the freedom of choice, then the choices need to include a public option, and if the federal government is not willing to step up to that plate, then they should allow the states to do so. A Medicaid Buy-In program is the obvious solution to our rising Medicaid costs in Delaware, closing the large insurance gap for consumers, and breaking up the monopoly on health care in our state.

If you want to get involved in pushing for a Medicaid Buy-In program for Delaware, please attend the September 7th DHSS meeting and sign our petition to look into an MBI program for Delaware.

 

For More information about the meeting please visit: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhcc/files/benchmarksummitfirst.pdf.

 

A Statewide Medicaid Buy-in Option, Part 2: What Would It Look Like?


What would a Medicaid-For-All Program Look Like in Delaware?

 

From: www.reviewjournal.com

As we stated in Part One, one other state has started pushing towards a Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) Program, Nevada. However, in Nevada, they are merely in the, “can we agree that this should happen” stage. As such, they have not decided on exactly what the plan would look like. They have only decided on two things. One, it would be ran by the same division of the state government that currently administers the Medicaid program; and two, that those who were granted subsidies under the ACA could use said subsidies as a means to offset some of the costs of joining the MBI program. This will allow an initial boost in people interested in joining the new program, while simultaneously putting most of the weight of paying for it on the back of the federal government. It’s possible that the MBI program in Nevada would be mostly identical to the standard Medicaid program. However, representatives have already stated that they are open to looking at alternative plans. For more information on the Nevada plan, please follow this link. Delaware could take the same route and open it up to negotiations, but first we need the task force to decide that this is an avenue worth pursuing. But for now, let’s speculate on what a Medicaid Public Option would look like.

From: http://www.cardiovascularbusiness.com/

The largest determinant of what the MBI program would look like, specifically in terms of co-payments, deductibles, services and coverages is what the cost for the consumer has to be to attract enough people. If the program was started today, the premium would likely be the full cost of the average Medicaid policy holder for both the state and federal government. This is due to the fact that the federal government, particularly with the Trump administration, will unlikely cover any additional costs for the state. As it stands right now, they are threatening to actually pull billions of dollars out of the federal portion of the health care funding for Medicaid being offered to the state. It must be noted that some of that was already set into place when the original ACA was enacted–more on that here. The full cost of Medicaid per enrollee per month is around $656. A rather high premium by most accounts. However, it’s important to take in the benefits that come along with this premium. There is zero deductible, zero co-payments for services, and no more than a $5 charge for most medications, some of which are actually free of charge. A policy of that magnitude in the private market would be far over the cost of Medicaid. However, that does not negate the fact that, even with subsidies for lower income individuals over the Medicaid cut-off, this is a price that is far too high. Now, if we find a way to retain the federal government’s portion on the MBI program, the premium would only be around $248. That’s for full benefits as described above! But that is not likely to happen.

       In order to bring down this cost to what could be competitive with the private marketplace, several aspects of traditional private insurance would have to be explored. Namely deductibles, co-payments, and coverages. All the things that we have come to hate about traditional insurance. However, the reason that most people hate these out-of-pocket costs is due to the fact that they are unreasonably high, and often unachievable barring some catastrophic incident. Even after they have been reached, they still have to pay the extremely high co-payments. In the case of the MBI program, if we can bring down the cost by including a low deductible, and then add in a small co-payment for all drugs and services–just for MBI plans–you have effectively bring down the overall cost and the premiums. However, that is not the only option for bringing down the costs. One other option to explore could be a progressive pricing system. In this type of scenario, if you opt-in to the MBI program, premiums would be based off of your AGI and would come out of your paycheck pre-tax.  Finally, the last way to bring down costs is to change the services covered under the plan. Currently, under the state Medicaid plan, most services are covered at 100%. This is due to the economic status of those on Medicaid. However, for the MBI program, there are several alternatives to 100% coverage for all services, and private insurance uses these alternatives to offer a variety of premium options.

It is vital to note that this is not a government mandated single-payer program, it is a public option run by the state. No one is having additional taxes levied except the people buying into the program.

From: www.lynda.com

The next question would be one of the most important, and unfortunately there is no way to answer it definitively at this time. Will the federal government pick up any portion of the tab for this state-run MBI program? The likely answer is no. However, the answer to this question would in effect change everything as it relates to costs to the consumer. If the federal government decides to maintain their commitment to the program in full, even for the MBI policyholders, the costs of the program would drop. Now, this may sound like a good thing, but remember that those are your tax dollars as well. The upside is that the Medicaid program is not a private for-profit program, so the government has no incentive to raise prices as you do in a supply and demand driven, private corporation. However, it is still going to take federal tax dollars to contribute if the federal government elects to do so.

In summation, the prospects over what exactly a MBI program would look like in Delaware is anyone’s guess. It could be a costly version of the current Medicaid system that thousands use every day, with great satisfaction ratings. Or, it could be a low cost version of a traditional insurance plan, with the added benefit that you are contributing to your state, instead of a CEO or investors deep pockets. Regardless of what it resembles, however, it truly could be the answer to many of the problems that plague our state’s health care situation. To find out exactly what the benefits, and even some of the downfalls could be if we implemented a MBI program in Delaware, read part three of this series.

Sign our petition to look into an MBI program for Delaware.

A Statewide Medicaid Buy-in Option, Part 1: What Ails Us?


What’s Wrong With Our System

 

Photo From: https://healthquoteinfo.com/5-state-single-payer-medicaid-buy/

     Our healthcare system is failing and there is not a single person in America who would argue the contrary. However, exactly why our system is failing is still a topic of debate. Some have concluded that it is due to greed. While others have decided that it’s all Obama’s fault and a direct result of the ACA. Bad news is, they are both partially right; except that it actually wasn’t Obama, but rather the insurance lobbyists involved in writing the ACA. The ACA did not solve the underlying problem in our nation’s healthcare system: It’s a private system devised around making a profit. Anytime profits and stakeholders are involved, the main goal of that industry is to make more money. As such, anything that cuts into that profit–say spending it on covering sick people’s medical bills–goes against your business model and you have to charge more to recoup those losses.

    Past that, it’s simply economics. The ACA mandated that all individuals hold some basic level of health care in an effort to lower costs that result from uninsured patients placing a strain on the system, and to get more young people into the market. This would bring down costs by spreading them out over a greater number of policyholders. Additionally, the program brought in even more patients through a massive subsidy program for those not covered in the Medicaid expansion. These people were predominately lower income, who tend to have higher medical bills directly in proportion to their socioeconomic status. As more people joined the

Part of the website for HealthCare.gov as photographed in Washington. (Jon Elswick/AP)

marketplace with subsidized care and the demand for policies increased, supply actually decreased. The industry shrank both from mergers, and from insurance companies being pulled out of the market for sub-par coverage that didn’t meet the ACA standards of care. The ones that were left had a sudden surge in clients, and as such had to up the price of coverage to make it worth it to them to expand operations to meet that new level of demand; again, because it’s a private industry. That is one of the tenets of supply and demand. So, even though the subsidies were meant to help low-income people access the marketplace, it’s still a private industry which has to make a certain level of profit to stay solvent and appealing to investors, so they raised prices to maintain that level.

     Many people believe that all there is today is for-profit health care, however that is not the case. An important distinction to note about for-profit vs not-for-profit health care is that both of them actually can make a profit. However, in the for-profit model most of the excess money—called “profit” in this model— usually goes to the shareholders in the form of dividends or bonuses, and only some of it is reinvested into the company to help bring down costs or create a better product. In a not-for-profit health care system, almost all of the excess—called “surplus” in this model—is reinvested back into the company to create a better product, or to lower costs. However, not-for-profits can operate on a surplus, and most of them do. Some view that as profit, but the biggest difference is who makes the money; shareholders and investors, or those working within the business and the policyholders (in the form of a better product). However, in both cases these companies are private industries with the model of making money, no matter what you call the excess.

     One of the biggest problems plaguing the Delaware health insurance marketplace is the lack of competition, as is the case in many industries within Delaware. Due to the fact that insurance companies are not set up to sell policies across state lines, and because many are leaving the marketplace or merging together, the supply of insurance policies shrank. In larger states, this could be mitigated to some degree because of another aspect of insurance called the risk pool. The risk pool is a representation of the quantity and quality of the policy holders in an area. Two of the most important qualities are its size, and its risk-factor rating. In Delaware, we have a small risk pool, meaning a low number of policyholders compared to other states. We also have a high-risk rating, meaning we have a lot of people at risk of producing claims. For comparison, let’s look at another state like Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the average health care policy is priced far lower than the same policy being sold here in Delaware. That is partially due to the fact that they have a much larger population which allows them to spread out the cost. Or, in other words, they have a larger risk pool. Our risk pool is predominantly elderly people and low-income families, both of whom tend to cost more to insure. Combine that with not having enough people to spread the costs out, and up goes the prices.

Picture From: http://navigatingchronicillness.com

     All of these issues have come together to create a situation that has crippled the Delaware health care exchange, and left little in the way of options for most Delawareans. At this point, you either pay the skyrocketing costs of private insurance, or pay the fine at the end of the year. While our state did take advantage of the Medicaid expansion to offer coverage to more lower-to-middle income families, we also inadvertently set our spending on a path to increase exponentially as the federal government pulls its funding. This leaves us with a vital problem to solve: How can we bring down the rising costs of our Medicaid program, without kicking people off or chopping services, while simultaneously offering insurance to more people who are left in the Medicaid-Private Insurance gap?

Read about more about the Medicaid Buy-In Program in Part 2 Here.

 

Sign our petition to look into an MBI program for Delaware.