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Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, speaks with Manchester Fire Chief Daniel Goonan on Monday at Serenity Place. (UNION LEADER)

NH senators opposing 'Trumpcare' bill before its release

MANCHESTER — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said Monday that Senate Republican leaders are working on an Obamacare replacement plan behind closed doors because they know the emerging "Trumpcare" bill will be widely unpopular.

"What we're concerned about is we're hearing we may not see this secret bill until they put it on the floor for a final vote," she said.

Hassan and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, were at opposite ends of the state to promote the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic. Shaheen visited Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Hassan toured Serenity Place with its director, Stephanie Bergeron, and Manchester Fire Chief Daniel Goonan.

Bergeron and Goonan said repeal or cutbacks to Medicaid expansion would jeopardize efforts to combat the epidemic. Serenity Place, an addiction and recovery center, is the key partner for Manchester Fire Department's "Safe Station," an open-door program at each city firehouse for drug addicts seeking help.

"All these people, they're in complete crisis mode coming through," Goonan said. "And you talk about Medicaid expansion? If we didn't have Medicaid, these people would be in a serious, serious plight.".

Partnering with Manchester fire for Safe Station about doubled the number of people seeking help, according to Bergeron. She said the future of Medicaid expansion weighs heavily on their minds.

While the Senate GOP bill has not been publicly released, Hassan said Senate Democrats have heard it proposes repealing Medicaid expansion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has a goal of having initial Senate action on the replacement bill before the July 4 holiday.

Greg Moore, state director for the Americans for Prosperity-NH, who has said that "Obamacare is exploding before our eyes," said the Senate GOP working group hashing out the many replacement details should have the proposed bill ready for public consumption, and a transparent process, ahead of a vote.

"It's more important to get the bill right than it is to meet arbitrary deadlines," he said.

The Senate version is likely to be in notable contrast to the American Health Care Act legislation that passed the House in early May.

In other aspects, the Senate bill will be another starting point on coverage, states' rights and flexibility, essential benefits and the future of Medicaid enrollment.

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