Finally, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s role in dramatically reducing her constituents’ health insurance options is getting noticed.
Twenty years ago, New Hampshire had 26 health insurers. There was robust competition. Then Jeanne Shaheen tried to “fix” the market.
Shaheen said it was not fair that insurers charged people different rates based on how healthy they were. As a state senator, she wrote a law to prevent that. Many insurers said they would stop doing business in the state if they had to charge everyone the same rate regardless of their risk of getting sick. Shaheen went forward with the bill anyway, it passed in 1994, and immediately insurers began leaving. Within a few years, the state lost 21 insurers.
That was two decades ago, and a lot of people have forgotten. (We have not; this page has reminded readers of Shaheen’s insurance legacy from time to time.) Last week New Hampshire voters got a reminder in a TV ad released by Americans f or Prosperity’s New Hampshire chapter. The ad relates the story of Shaheen’s dreadful 1994 law and ties it to her vote for and steadfast support of Obamacare, which further reduced the state’s insurance choices.
One of the reasons for Shaheen’s supposed popularity is that she has rarely taken strong positions on deeply controversial issues. Unfortunately for her, time has a way of proving or disproving political rhetoric. Rhetoric becomes policy, which becomes law, and laws have consequences. Shaheen’s health insurance laws have had devastating consequences on New Hampshire’s insurance market. They have limited choices and raised prices. Maybe she will finally be held to account for that.