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November 18. 2013 8:21PM

Gov. Hassan continues push for health coverage


Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks to a crowd about health care at Plymouth State University Monday. (DAN SEUFERT PHOTO)

PLYMOUTH -- Gov. Maggie Hassan, Speaker of the House Terie Norelli and Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen stood among sign-holding supporters of expanded health care in the state Monday, all making it clear that they think Obamacare is good for New Hampshire.

In what Hassan presented as "a press conference to encourage members of the Senate to reach a constructive compromise on health care expansion," the governor said Democrats have shown flexibility on their version of a bill that would accept $2.5 billion in federal health care funds to help more than 50,000 state residents.

If the federal money is not taken by New Hampshire soon, it may not be available, Hassan said.

Hassan and Norelli said they have offered a compromise plan that incorporates both Democratic and Republican ideas "for increasing and preserving access to health insurance while promoting private coverage," Hassan said.

The alternative bill from the Republicans is bad, she said.

"The Senate bill, as written, simply will not work, and I will not set up our state and families for failure," she said. "The unworkable proposal that the Senate has put forward just delaying offering people health insurance is equally wrong."

Republicans don't see any compromising being done by Democrats, said New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn.

By holding Monday's press conference, the governor "continues to demonstrate … that she is not serious about working across the aisle on a solution that will help low-income families have greater access to private insurance," Horn said in a statement.

"Instead of doing her job and sitting down with Republicans to reach an agreement, the governor decided to leave the State House and participate in another publicity stunt designed to promote ObamaCare's disastrous expansion of a failing entitlement program."

The plan backed by the governor and speaker would move health coverage forward and adopt the Senate proposal to shift the entire newly eligible population of individuals and families with incomes up to 138 percent of federal poverty onto New Hampshire's health insurance exchange with premium assistance.

One of the key tenents of the Democrat "compromise" plan is a realistic, feasible timetable that allows for workable, responsible and effective implementation, including increased competition to ensure cost-effectiveness on the exchange, Norelli said.

"We need a plan that is achievable, that is built for success from Day 1," Norelli said.

Norelli said there is support for expanding health care in New Hampshire among Republicans and the general public.

But Horn said the governor and her colleagues aren't getting the message.

"Gov. Hassan's continued campaigning for Obamacare and her admission that she would rather do nothing than negotiate a commonsense plan to help Granite Staters get access to high quality insurance is disgraceful," she said.

"The governor is showing New Hampshire that she is a partisan politician who would rather stand up for President Obama's failed health care agenda than serve the best interests of her constituents."

dseufert@newstote.com


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