On November 7th, the Legislature began a two-week special legislative session to address the issue of health care for low-income New Hampshire residents*. If you've been reading the newspapers, you probably know that this is a policy issue that has consumed much of our time this year and rightfully so.
The question of Medicaid expansion was among the most contentious issues discussed during this year's budget negotiations. You may recall that the governor included Medicaid expansion in her version of the budget but Senate Republicans removed the language and replaced it with a commission (Medicaid Expansion Study Commission) that called for a thoughtful, deliberative study of the issue before moving forward. (In at least three situations where Medicaid was expanded in New Hampshire in the past — 1989, 1992, and 1994), there was a five-month deliberative process — SB-195, SB-319, SB-774 respectively.)
Chief among our concerns about moving forward too hastily was the intentional act of putting more lives into an already broken Medicaid system and the potential for N.H. being forced to institute an income tax to pay for this very large expense if federal funding disappears. This issue was too important not to have a full study and public hearings.
With that provision removed, Senate Republicans led the way in passing a balanced budget with no new taxes, no new fees, and limited spending. I was pleased that our budget lived up to conservative principles and passed both bodies of the legislature on a nearly unanimous vote and signed into law by the governor.
The Medicaid Expansion Study Commission recently completed its work and while the commission offered a number of important ideas, what they offered, and what is now being offered as the House proposal (Special Session House Bill 1) is a not a New Hampshire solution.
After much research, we continue to believe that growing the Medicaid entitlement and accepting a Washington one-size fits all plan will not only provide substandard health care for the uninsured, it will also break our budget and lead to a broad-based tax. While the House plan contemplates a private sector option, it does little to protect taxpayers in the long-term and does not included necessary deadlines that will make reform a reality.
Instead of being led by Washington, the Senate took the initiative and sought out health care experts and asked them to work with us to create a viable plan for how we can work through the private market to get coverage for low-income residents who struggle to afford health insurance coverage. The result of that collaborative effort is the New Hampshire Health Protection Program and Special Session Senate Bill 1. This program will protect N.H. taxpayers, it will support our state's medical providers, and it will provide high quality insurance to thousands of N.H. residents who lack it today.
This proposed legislation will increase access to private insurance coverage for upwards of 58,000 low-income New Hampshire residents. By maximizing available federal dollars, we will provide better coverage for our citizens than would be offered under Medicaid and we can do so with a program design that will provide rock solid protections for New Hampshire taxpayers.
Moreover, unlike Medicaid expansion, our private option plan will not grow government. Unlike Medicaid expansion, our private option plan will not leave taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in new costs over the next 10 years. And unlike Medicaid expansion, our private option plan will require co-pays, deductibles, and limits to those folks receiving this coverage.
The plan we are presenting has received support from health experts in New Hampshire and we are pleased with their support. But make no mistake, for the N.H. Health Protection Plan to work, it will require our governor to roll up her sleeves and work with us to get this done. I have no doubt that Governor Hassan has the influence and ability to make this happen and we all look forward to working with her on this critically important issue. The New Hampshire Health Protection Plan is a plan that is right for N.H., and could be the model for health care reform.
Many, many thanks to all those citizens who volunteered their time and expertise, who stepped up to the plate and were willing to work with us to create a plan that provides better health insurance for low-income N.H. citizens, better payments to the health care providers, and protects NH taxpayers. I urge you to review the proposed legislation at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2013/SSSB0001.html then call the governor at 271.2121 and ask her to support the New Hampshire Health Protection Program — the New Hampshire solution.
(*2013 Poverty Guidelines: 100 percent poverty for a family of four is $23,550; 138 percent of poverty for a family of four is $32,499; Source: http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Eligibility/Downloads/2013-Federal-Poverty-level-charts.pdf)
(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the New Hampshire Senate.)
Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 10:04
To The Daily Sun,
On October 26th, Pleasant Street School held its annual Fall Festival with a hearty goal of raising funds to support the children of PSS.
We are writing to thank the many individuals and businesses within the community that helped make our event a huge success. A larger than life thank you to all the area businesses that donated items for our raffle table and concession stand. The impact of having 50 great raffle prizes and a food-filled concession stand at no cost to us is immeasurable. A big thanks to all of our PSS bakers, the bake sale table was a huge success due to the never-ending sea of homemade items. We also want to extend our appreciation to the Laconia Fire Department for bringing one of their engines to the festival. The kids were able to climb inside and talk to the firemen about their jobs. Seeing the huge ladder extended high into the sky was a sight that brought both awe and excitement to kids big and small. Another big thank you to Officer Cardinal from the Laconia Police Department. The kids love to see her familiar face. Last, but not least, without the people that donated their time to help run this event, it would never have had the success it did.
So, to the families that donated prizes and funds to keep our costs down, to the school staff, parents, grandparents, and PSS alumni that kept all aspects of the festival running smoothly, and to everyone that brought their families to experience what a special day it was, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Pleasant Street School VIPSS
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 11:22
To The Daily Sun,
I'm sorry that Nancy Parsons (see her letter of November 6) needed surgery recently, I'm happy it was successful. And, I'm happy that insurance paid most of her medical bills.
In her letter Ms. Parsons charges, without evidence, that insurance companies do horrible things, like "dropping people who are very ill". So, why didn't the insurance company just cancel Ms. Parsons' policy rather than pay over $180,000 for her medical bills?
According to the New Hampshire Insurance Department, it is illegal for an insurance company to cancel a policy if the premiums are paid.
In addition, ensuring that commitments are fulfilled is a legitimate government function, e.g., via insurance regulators, politicians, and courts. If insurance companies act as many radical leftists charge, it would indicate a major failure of government.
Almost everyone knows people for whom insurance paid enormous medical bills. Insurance companies must deal fairly with people and fulfill their obligations or they will lose business and face regulator actions.
Ms. Parsons likes Obamacare, the "solution" to mostly imaginary problems that the radical leftists have imposed on the American people. Obamacare requirements force cancellation of millions of health insurance policies that responsible people bought to protect themselves and their families. (There will be many times more cancellations next year.)
For example, some cancer patients report that the policies that are paying their medical bills have been cancelled. Replacement policies are often not affordable and/or don't allow access to their health care providers. These patients face heart-wrenching choices.
Before Obamacare, people could choose the insurance with the features they desired.
Obamacare's "experts" created four almost identical policies for us to choose from. These policies are much more expensive than current policies, may not be accepted by current doctors and hospitals, and all require coverage that many people don't want or need, e.g., 60-year-old couples must buy policies covering birth control and maternity costs.
The radical leftists didn't impose Obamacare on us just to insure a few more people. Obamacare's purpose is to grow government and to control people.
Higher health care expenses harm middle income Americans by straining already tight budgets and/or making previously independent people become dependent on government, e.g., for help paying insurance premiums that were forced high to provide unnecessary and mostly undesired insurance coverage.
I am happy that Ms. Parsons received the care she needed and that her insurance honored its commitments. But, I wish her experience would make her wake up to the greatness of our health care system, the benefits of the free market, the responsibilities of regulators, and of the harm that Obamacare inflicts on our country and the American people.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 11:01
To The Daily Sun,
When I first read about the farm animal bill (HB-110) I couldn't understand how anyone could oppose it. The bill requires anyone who records farm animal cruelty to report it and turn over videotapes or photographs documenting the abuse within 24 hours. Since I can't stand to see cruel treatment toward any animal or human, I thought this bill was a great idea.
I was confused when I read that the Humane Society of the U.S. and the N.H. ACLU were opposed to the bill. Why would these organizations be against legislation requiring witnesses of animal cruelty to report it to officials within 24 hours?
I learned that undercover investigators from animal protection groups go to farms to videotape animal cruelty. Some of them stay at the farms for two to three months, taping and recording, never for just a day or two. The reason for this is, documentation of an isolated incident of cruelty can be dismissed as just that, an isolated incident. Investigators must prove a pattern of abuse in order to build a case that will stand up in court. It would be very difficult to establish a pattern of abuse in just 24 hours, and this is where the brilliant and insidious nature of this bill starts to become clear: it would thwart attempts to establish a pattern of abuse, thus preventing prosecutors from successfully winning a court case against farm animal abusers.
This bill has been passed by the N.H. Committee on Environment and Agriculture, and will then be voted on by the House of Representatives in the second week of January. Please contact your reps and ask them to vote against HB-110. You can find your representatives and their contact information here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:57
To The Daily Sun,
Many who think they know about money, business and debt often contend that "the federal government should be run like a business or a balanced family budget." This belief is not only simplistic and uninformed, but also wrong. Many of these self-described "experts" even go so far as to want to bring back the gold standard.
Do you know any business or family that is still paying for the Civil War, World War II or every other war in the past 150 years? How about a business or family that operates its own navy, coast guard, disease research or air traffic control?
Anyone familiar with economics and credit should know that federal debt is an economic positive that establishes government credit and gives value to the U.S. dollar while maintaining our standing in the world. It's ironic that those in Congress who talk about the evils of debt are doing their best to destroy the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government. They desire to take away the taxing ability of the executive branch and the regulatory power of the Federal Reserve.
When Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury, assumed all the war debts of the original (13 bankrupt) states after the Revolutionary War, this established our credit in the eyes of the world. The new government showed it was able to pay its bills through taxation and established one, strong currency where before every state printed its own money. This gave the federal government the ability to establish a central money supply giving investors faith in government bonds. Ironically, Thomas Jefferson and those who later started the original Democratic Party were against Hamilton's plan and wanted the states to maintain control over the financial system.
Businesses and families cannot print money. That is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve through the Treasury. When President Lincoln was faced with the staggering costs of the Civil War, he ordered the Treasury Department to print as much money as was needed to pay the bills. People should realize that the nation can never go bankrupt as long as it can print money and purchase its own bonds, which the Federal Reserve does through "quantitative easing".
The misinformed who contend we should go back to the gold standard and tie the dollar's value to physical gold in government possession are totally misguided. Every billionaire in the world would want to redeem his dollars for gold bullion, causing a world-wide financial disaster where all governments would lose credit worthiness.
Citizens must realize that a modern government has past, current and future obligations that can never be paid off. Unlike business, that is the nature of government. Business exists to make a profit while government exists for the common good. Compensating immediate relatives of fallen soldiers going back to the Civil War, as well as victims of future disasters in all 50 States, can only be the responsibility of the federal government.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:53