N.H. Gubernatorial Candidate Criticizes State Health Compact Bill

April 26, 2012

New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan said Tuesday that a GOP proposal to form a compact to assume control over Medicare and Medicaid within New Hampshire’s boundaries is a risky proposition that is wrong for the state.

“Seniors pay their whole working lives for Medicare. Under this plan, workers would still pay a tax for Medicare health insurance, but now they would not be guaranteed Medicare coverage once they reach 65,” Hassan said at a Statehouse news conference.

Hassan said the proposal would let the state decide to delay coverage until 70 or to raise their out-of-pocket costs. She noted that the Republican-controlled Legislature cut funding to programs for the poor in the state budget adopted last year.

“We should not trust them with Medicare,” she said.

Hassan said she will outline her own health care proposals in her campaign.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith said he does not support every element of the proposal, but supports its overall concept of “giving the states more flexibility to control costs and deliver health care more effectively.”

“Medicare is important and it’s going broke. Something needs to be done to rescue the program and soon,” he said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne said he supports reforming the process that approves new hospitals and expansions of existing ones, including purchases of costly equipment, encouraging hospitals and health care providers to work together to find more efficient ways to provide care and to allow insurance to be purchased across state lines.

The House passed-bill proposes that New Hampshire join with other states in delivering health care to its residents. Under the bill, the states would receive block grants from the federal government and would take over Medicare and Medicaid. Congress would have to approve the compact for it to take effect. The bill would supersede any federal health care law.

House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt sponsored the bill, which seeks to free the state from the mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Bettencourt says government is best when closest to the people and bringing health care management back to the state level would ensure greater efficiency and accountability.

The Senate has not scheduled a vote on the bill.

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