Concord — Senators David Pierce (D-Etna) and Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) fought hard in the Senate Commerce Committee today to convince their Republican colleagues to pass a bill that would have created guidelines for health insurance in New Hampshire, driven costs down, and allowed Granite Staters to retain control of healthcare policies. Despite their efforts, the committee’s three republicans voted 3-2 to kill the bill.
By voting this way, the Republican majority essentially moved to hand control over health insurance in New Hampshire to the Federal Government rather than protect state’s rights. With its different set of rules, it is likely that Federal control over issues like geographic rating could result in higher costs for consumers in areas where access to health care is already challenging, that access to coverage for smokers will be harder, that we will have more confusing billing and new standards for small groups that will involve more of our businesses.
“The majority has been dangling this bill in front of the business community for months, creating uncertainty and confusion,” said Senator Pierce. “Now they’ve voted to put the federal government in charge, create even more confusion, and even raise costs for consumers. Just remember the Wal-Mart rule: you break it, you bought it. By breaking our insurance market, the Republican majority has bought all that is coming when people begin to have problems.”
“As a small business person, I want to be able to understand the rules and plan to take care of my employees and keep costs down,” said Senator Hosmer. “This vote will make it much harder. I understand that they don’t like anything that is even remotely related to the Affordable Care Act, but this is going to hurt New Hampshire people and New Hampshire businesses, and all in order to play politics. The people of New Hampshire shouldn’t have to suffer for the sake of political games. Instead of political grandstanding, let’s do what’s right for our people and our businesses and make things work for them.”
In testimony before the committee, it was firmly established that this bill is not simply about the Affordable Care Act or health care exchanges — this bill would have established New Hampshire-controlled rules for all individual and small group policies. It would have allowed the Insurance Department to regulate health insurance markets, enforce the rules, and interact with businesses as the regulator. Without it, we are literally handing over regulation of our health insurance markets to the federal government and its rules for the first time in our state’s history.
“There were no real substantive objections to this bill during the hearing,” added Senator Pierce. “The Republican move today is about one thing only: politics.”