GOP gubernatorial candidate Smith: Reduce rules on energy, health careBy JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
April 09. 2012 7:59PM
MANCHESTER - Republican candidate for governor Kevin Smith on Monday called for reducing regulations on New Hampshire health insurance companies and electric utilities in an effort to reduce costs to consumers.
Smith released the second part of his economic plan, which he calls 'New Hampshire's Future is Now.'
He released the first part, focusing on business tax reforms, last month.
On health care, Smith says that, as governor, he would oppose any 'Obamacare mandates' on the state and have the state join the current federal lawsuit 'that will allow our state to opt out of the program.'
He said he would work to allow Granite Staters to purchase health insurance across state lines and allow New Hampshire health insurance companies to offer 'alternative plans to customers and pare back the coverage mandates that the state imposes.'
'We should not force a small company to pay $11,000 a year per employee for a certain coverage if none of the employees have a need for it and are willing to opt out,' Smith said.
Smith said he also would try to form compacts with surrounding states to purchase health-care coverage , which, he said, would reduce costs.
Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan said Smith's plan is similar to a bill passed by the House that would allow the state to be part of 'an interstate health-care compact' which then would receive block grants from the federal government for Medicare.
Hassan said allowing the state to take over Medicare would result in 'drastic cuts' to the health care system.
'Ovide Lamontagne, Kevin Smith and the Bill O'Brien legislature have supported drastic cuts to our hospitals and to other institutions that Granite Staters count on,' said Hassan. 'So when they talk about taking over Medicare, you can bet that they don't intend to make subtle reforms. They intend to make drastic cuts that will make it impossible for our seniors to receive the benefits that the current Medicare program provides.'
Smith said he also would eliminate the Certificate of Need process 'so that core competition of service and care can exist within New Hampshire's health care economy.'
On reducing electricity costs, Smith said he would 'promote policies that give our utilities the flexibility to obtain and provide the cheapest electricity possible instead of picking winners and losers.'
He also would 'eliminate onerous, environmentally neutral, rate-hiking energy regulations such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (cap-and-trade) policy,' and 'develop a long-term comprehensive energy policy aimed at reducing energy costs for consumers and businesses by reevaluating current energy regulations, appropriately managing the state's energy generation assets and public utilities, working to provide greater market certainty for energy end-users, and exploring alternative forms of energy for the future,' he said.