Legislation would make Obamacare provisions state law

DOVER — Legislation released from a Democratic-controlled Senate committee Wednesday would codify one of the core tenets of the Affordable Care Act by guaranteeing individuals access to health care.

Senate Bill 35 would insert into Delaware law several of the provisions of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, that seek to allow more people to obtain coverage.

“This act will prevent insurance companies from denying care to individuals will pre-existing conditions … and it will ensure that health insurance will always be available in Delaware,” Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro told the Senate Banking, Business & Insurance Committee.

State law currently directs companies to comply with the ACA, but Republicans in Congress remain critical of it, and President Trump recently made another effort to weaken the federal law.

A federal judge on Thursday struck down an attempt by the White House to establish association health plans, ruling they are “an end-run around the ACA.”

Should the ACA be undone in the future, Delaware would still offer health care protections to its citizens if Senate Bill 35 becomes law.

“This bill probably could not be more timely,” main sponsor Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, said in the committee hearing when the future of the ACA appeared a little bit more murky.

Under the proposal, premiums could be determined only by a consumer’s age, smoking status and whether a plan would cover one person or a family.

The bill would not recreate the health care marketplace.

According to Mr. Navarro, 10 states bar denial of care for people with pre-existing conditions.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, the only company offering plans through the marketplace in Delaware, supports the bill, according to its lobbyist.

Break

The General Assembly will have this week off — sort of.

The Joint Capital Improvement Committee will meet Monday through Thursday to hear from state agencies and higher education institutions about their capital needs, as members work on the bond bill.

The legislature will be back in the weeks of April 4 and 11 before taking its annual two-weeks Easter break.

The one-week hiatus is an atypical one, created because Easter falls late this year.

Even more hazing

The latest iteration of the General Assembly’s hazing tradition took place Thursday, as members had fun with Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford.

When a lawmaker introduces his or her first bill, colleagues take turns posing silly questions as a way to welcome them to the legislature.

With 17 new members across both chambers (counting two former representatives now in the Senate), it’s a tradition that has already taken place several times this year and will continue for months to come.

Rep. Shupe’s first bill, which declares the rescue dog the state dog for one year, was perfect for the occasion.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, instructed members in support of a minor amendment to say “woof,” while those opposed could say “meow.”

Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton, made numerous dog puns, and someone questioned if the one year referred to in the proposal was in human years or dog years.

Among those present for the vote was Rep. Shupe’s very good pup, Hannah, herself a rescue.

Despite some grumbling from representatives who prefer cats, the bill passed without any votes against.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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