Delaware Gov. Minner Puts Workers’ Comp Reform, Health Purchasing Pools on Her Second Term Agenda

January 27, 2005

Delaware Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner outlined her agenda for the coming year in the first state of the state address of her second term. Her agenda includes lowering workers’ compensation costs and improving health insurance access.

In her speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, Minner endorsed the concept of a statewide health insurance purchasing pool for businesses and families to obtain health insurance. Legislation to implement the idea is being drafted by statewide elected officials, legislators and her office.

“This will give individuals and small businesses in Delaware the same bargaining power and risk-spreading abilities that big companies now have,” Minner said. “My hope is that this will result in more affordable health insurance premiums across the board for Delawareans.”

Minner also said she will propose legislation to make hospital treatment outcome and cost data public, so that businesses and individuals can make informed choices about where to seek medical treatment.

To help boost the state’s economy, she proposed reforming the workers compensation system in Delaware, by creating an Industrial Accident Board Screening Committee and by passing legislation aimed at reducing high medical costs in workers comp cases.

“There are many people who have a stake in this issue: employers, organized labor, physicians, attorneys, and more. To get it resolved will require some serious discussions, but I want the discussions to end and to produce legislation that can be passed during this session,” she said.

The governor also proposed reforming workforce training incentives offered by the state. She said the many incentive programs are “fractured, confusing, in amounts too small to make a difference and, as a result, are unused” and said they should be streamlined to be “of more use to our corporate citizens and more of a boost to our state’s economy.”

Minner also asked the General Assembly to be prepared to address recommendations from the newly created Surface Water Management Task Force, which will report by April 1 on actions the state can take to reduce the threat of dangerous floods as well as on other issues.

Minner also referred to a number of initiatives she was unable to get passed in her first term, including banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I ask that the measure be given the chance for a debate and a vote, and that the debate be based on the content and purpose of the bill itself, not on rumors or theories about what might come next,” Minner said.

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