NH Week in Review for May 7: Health care bill gets lukewarm reception

May 07, 2017

The proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), passed by the U.S. House this week, is getting a chilly to tepid response from Democrats and Republicans alike here in New Hampshire.

By four votes, the Republican-controlled U.S. House, with the urging of President Donald Trump, voted to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act.

The Granite State’s two Democratic congresswomen - Carol Shea-Porter from the 1st Congressional District and Annie Kuster from the 2nd CD - voted against the measure. See a WMUR story here.

The measure now moves to the U.S. Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans. There, however, senators are likely to write their own version of a replacement health care law.

New Hampshire’s two Democratic U.S. senators -- Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan -- basically declared the House-approved measure dead on arrival.

“There’s bipartisan opposition to this disastrous repeal legislation in the Senate and I intend to work across the aisle to stop this plan in its tracks. Too many lives in New Hampshire depend on the coverage and protections that this bill eliminates,” Shaheen said in a statement.

“I will work in the Senate to defeat this harmful bill and to ensure that all of our citizens have the health care coverage that they need to lead healthy, productive lives,” Hassan said in a statement. See an NH1 story here.

The House measure received a lukewarm reception from Republican leaders in New Hampshire. While they expressed satisfaction that the process of replacing Obamacare was moving forward, they had reservations about specific provisions, particularly how it affects Medicaid expansion, which is seen as a popular bipartisan success story in the Granite State.

Republican Gov. Christopher Sununu said on Friday, "The bill in its current form isn't something I would subscribe on to just yet," Sununu said. "It's a good step forward. I'm hopeful that through the Senate process, we can provide the states more flexibility, more local controls."

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfboro, the Senate majority leader, was particularly concerned about Medicaid expansion, an option under Obamacare that many states exercised. "There's a lot of feeling around the country that Obamacare has to change and it has to change for the better. What I'll be looking at is how does it affect Medicaid funding, so we have a better idea of how to proceed with Medicaid expansion,” said Bradley. See a WMUR story here.

Analysis of the House-passed measure by New Hampshire health care providers shows more than 100,000 low-income New Hampshire residents could be at risk of losing coverage. See a Union Leader story here.

At the Statehouse

The House passed the Senate-approved measure to provide funding for full-day kindergarten. SB 191 provides $14.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to help communities that want to establish full-day kindergarten or expand their half-day programs to full-day. “I applaud the House for taking this important step today to provide financial support to communities that choose to support and create full-day kindergarten programs. I believe strongly that this is the right thing to do and I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature as the measure moves forward,” said Sununu. See a WMUR story here.

The House passed SB 9 to further strengthen the state’s rape shield law. It was previously approved by the Senate and has the support of Gov. Sununu, who said, “The important action taken by the House today ensures the protections provided by New Hampshire’s rape shield statute are not ambiguous. Further, it prevents another family from having to go through the painful and lengthy legal battle the Marriott family had to undertake to protect their daughter’s privacy.” See a Union Leader story here.

In other action, the House killed the latest effort to establish gambling casinos in the state (SB 242), it established funding for a cross border drug interdiction program (SB 131), and it appropriated funds for road and bridge repair in the state (SB 38).

The House decided to investigate the online behavior of two members - Robert Fisher, R-Laconia, and Sherry Frost, D-Dover. Fisher’s review has to do with a misogynistic forum on Reddit called “The Red Pill”, while Twitter tweets by Frost equating terrorists with “mostly white Christian men” are also being reviewed. See an NHPR story here.

Also

The Executive Council unanimously approved Andrew Cline as Gov. Sununu’s pick to serve as chairman of the state Board of Education. Cline is a former editorial page writer for the Union Leader newspaper. See a Concord Monitor story here.

Mark Huddleston announced this week he will retire as president of the University of New Hampshire at the end of the academic year in 2018. Huddleston has been president for 10 years and is the longest serving president in UNH’s 150 year history. See a Foster’s Daily Democrat story here.

The governor asked for the resignation of New Hampshire Hospital CEO Robert MacLeod after learning that staffing at the hospital is falling short of the contractual obligations. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital is responsible for staffing the state hospital, but vacancies have gone unfilled since January. See a Union Leader story here.

Should NH require adults to wear seat belts? Should local police departments have the power to give out motor vehicle accidents reports, instead of the state Department of Motor Vehicles?  Should NH require grocery stores to donate leftover food instead of discarding it? Those were some of the questions we asked this week for discussion on our Facebook page. Join the discussion here.

 

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