20 Aug 2014
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Conservatives Blast Medicaid Expansion Deal

Groups warn that incumbents could face primary opponents; others suggest more study is needed.

A number of conservative groups in New Hampshire are calling on Republicans to not support a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that at least one state senator worries will be rammed through the House and Senate this week.

The plan, SB413, expects to provide coverage to nearly 50,000 people without insurance in the state, on various levels of coverage, by using federal government funds through year-end 2016, or at any time federal funding drops below 100 percent. After that, the pilot program could end, be extended, or could end before the first three years are completed.

Americans for Prosperity New Hampshire, the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, Cornerstone Action, and others, including a number of elected officials, are calling on their colleagues to reject the proposal. The plan, which is being eyed in hearings this week, is a trap, they said, that will force the state to adhere to the rules of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Greg Moore, the director of AFP-NH, raised a litany of questions that have not been answered by elected officials, including concerns about limits to care, loss of private insurance coverage, and other problems with the plan. He asked, as well, whether any of the leaders supporting the plan had thought that voters would be angry at their decision to support expansion.

Aaron Day of the Liberty Caucus was even more blunt, calling the plan “crony capitalism” that wouldn’t improve care and would lead to broad-based taxes. He called for challengers to any Republican who would support this $2.4 billion plan.

“This legislation does not represent the views of 99 percent of the Republicans in New Hampshire,” he said. “This isn’t a Republican issue – this is a couple of people in the Senate (in leadership) who are going in the wrong direction.”

Day added that the concept that the federal government funds were taxpayer funds from New Hampshire was false, since the federal government currently owes more than $17 trillion in debt. It’s borrowed money, he said, that will harm future generations.

State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, an opponent of the proposal, said everyone at the Statehouse wanted to fix the healthcare problem but the plan was not going to accomplish that goal. He said all it does is spend between $600 million and $700 million annually, with no guaranteed improvement of the health of the state’s citizens. Sanborn said the plan just sends the money to doctors and hospitals at a time when the state was already the second most expensive in terms of healthcare costs.

“It doesn’t solve a problem,” he said. “Its numbers are flawed, its premises are not correct, it doesn’t eliminate uncompensated care, it doesn’t help people’s outcomes, it doesn’t cut waiting time in emergency rooms, it doesn’t make for a healthier population in the state of New Hampshire.”

Sanborn called for more study on the issue that would lead to better health outcomes.

“We need to stop and back up, and as a Legislature, for the first time, really begin to address those challenges that we are facing,” he said.

Matt Murphy, the executive director of Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, also spoke against the plan saying the Affordable Care Act has already been a disaster and this plan would make things worse. The plan, he stated, would force more than 20,000 people from private insurance to Medicare, would be a drag on emergency rooms, and cost taxpayers money.

“Future generations can’t afford that,” he said.

When asked what alternative plans or amendments the group was floating to counter the bipartisan deal, Moore said its supporters had offered other proposals that could be looked at by the state Senate. Sanborn said there were “dozens of other things we can do” but none of the ideas would be discussed because legislators were trying to “ram it through … without any meaningful debate.”

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