New Hampshire stands at a critical juncture in the health care debate and the choices are clear. Do we proactively begin the process repairing our current failing, perhaps terminal, health care system or do we declare defeat and allow New Hampshire to buckle under this broken system's immense pressure. I believe legislators are elected to solve problems, not fight tired partisan battles that place politics over people. Therefore, it's my intention to partner with my colleagues in the New Hampshire Senate who are focused on long-term solutions and not short term, half-hearted fixes with arbitrary deadlines.
It's clear both chambers of the New Hampshire Legislature believe adults between 19 and 64, with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (individuals earning less than $16,800 and a family of four living on less than $32,500 per year) should have access to health insurance. Encouraging preventive care, made possible through insurance, has the potential to radically reduce emergency care and improve a person's quality of life. Increased access to health insurance will also significantly reduce charity care in New Hampshire and in turn save hospitals upwards of a half billion dollars. Bad debt and unsustainable charity care operate as hard hitting economic anvils on hard working New Hampshire families, health care providers and our local economy.
In working towards health care solutions for our working poor and those struggling with paying insurance premiums, we must also be cognizant of always working towards fostering more competition in the health insurance marketplace, helping reduce premium costs for New Hampshire's business community and developing a health care performance matrix that measures success. Most importantly, there must be an increase, if not maintenance, of local control in health care decisions. New Hampshire control, alongside the establishment of safeguards in case the federal government doesn't fulfill its promises, are the keystones to a plan I will support.
We are in a position to make real substantive changes in New Hampshire's health care landscape. It will take compromise from both chambers and both sides of the political aisle. A "take it or leave it" approach will poison the process. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators who appreciate that standing idle is not an acceptable strategy and who are seeking solutions to tough issues that best serve our state and its hard working citizens.
(Laconia Democrat Andrew Hosmer represents District 7 in the New Hampshire Senate.)