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Sununu writes Senate leadership in opposition to GOP plan to repeal Obamacare

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 27. 2017 3:41PM

Gov. Chris Sununu announced Tuesday that he cannot support the current Senate Republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, citing reported cuts in eligibility and loss of coverage.

“Taken as a whole, we believe that the changes proposed in the BCRA will lead to cuts in eligibility, loss of coverage, or significant increases in state taxes,” Sununu wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY. “New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities.”

The BCRA stands for the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Sununu’s response, and the delay of the Senate vote on the legislation, comes a day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office gave the bill a score that prompted at least five Republicans in the Senate to say they could not vote for it.

The CBO report estimated 22 million would lose coverage by 2026 under the GOP bill, which Democrats call “Trumpcare.”

Senate leaders made clear Tuesday that a vote on the bill would not come before the Fourth of July holiday recess, as was originally intended.

“Healthcare reform requires robust participation from the nation’s governors. While we remain committed to reforming healthcare, the current version of the BCRA goes beyond addressing Obamacare’s flaws,” Sununu said. “This is not an approach I can support, and I am opposed to the BCRA as currently written.”

The governor's letter can be viewed below:

New Hampshire’s all-Democrat congressional delegation has opposed the GOP push to scrap the Affordable Care Act. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley on Monday called on Sununu to join seven other Republican governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, in opposing the GOP legislation.

In his letter to McConnell and Schumer, Sununu said health care reform is critical because the Granite State faces the “likelihood of potentially astronomical premium increases in 2018.”

“We continue to believe that the best way to reform Obamacare is through a focus on transparency, competition and an improved partnership with states that include reliable, adequate federal funding and flexibility for states to craft their own approaches to address the cost of care with improving quality, access and innovation,” he wrote.

Sununu noted that maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions and greater flexibility for states than exists in the House version are priorities. He welcomed the state option to permit work requirements as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries. However, he expressed concern with the “adequacy of resources” the state would receive under the bill’s per capita cap system for the state’s Medicaid program.

“Ultimately,” he wrote, “the BCRA fails to provide us with sufficient funding.”

Study of the bill indicates New Hampshire would lose $1.4 billion in the first decade under the per capita cap in the GOP bill, possibly prompting state leaders to make severe cuts to the Medicaid program, according to Sununu. He notes that the state has leveraged Medicaid expansion to help combat the opioid and heroin epidemic, with more than 23,000 people receiving substance use disorder services since it began in mid-2014.

Since its inception, more than 107,000 individuals have received coverage through it, he wrote.

Sununu concluded in the letter that it is his hope the Senate and House can consider the concerns “in an open, transparent, deliberate and bipartisan manner.”

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