Obama’s NH Tax Hike: “Reform” Could Bankrupt State
October 19, 2009
Will New Hampshire's congressional delegation vote for a health care "reform" bill that raises state Medicaid spending so high that we have to pass a broad-based tax to fund it? Based on legislation making the rounds in Washington, that is a distinct possibility.
The House bill both Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes voted for would dramatically expand Medicaid to cover people earning as much as 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Under current state rules, New Hampshire covers parents of Medicaid-eligible children only if their income is less than 63 percent of the federal poverty level. The House bill would more than double the family income level at which New Hampshire would have to provide Medicaid services.
The federal government does not pay 100 percent of Medicaid costs. New Hampshire picks up half the tab. Thus, the House bill would explode state Medicaid costs.
The compromise "Baucus bill" passed in the Senate Finance Committee last week also would expand Medicaid enrollment well beyond current levels. In fact, about half of the bill's expanded insurance coverage comes from simply rewriting the rules on Medicaid eligibility so more people would qualify.
Both bills would force states to expand coverage. There would be no choice.
President Obama promised no tax increases of any kind on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year. But if these proposed Medicaid expansions become law, states will have to raise taxes to comply with the unfunded federal mandate. For New Hampshire, that will almost certainly mean a broad-based tax or expanded gambling.
Both Hodes and Shea-Porter already have voted to saddle New Hampshire taxpayers with enormous additional public health care costs. Will Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Judd Gregg do the same?