Ill-fated New Hampshire Health Care Bill Let Insurance Companies Cherry-Pick Who to Cover, Causing Rates to Skyrocket by up to 80 Percent
CONCORD - In recent weeks Kelly Ayotte has been pushing a GOP establishment-sponsored health care plan that would give insurance companies control over the health care of New Hampshire families. "KellyCare" would do away with essential consumer protection mandates as well as loosen restrictions on insurance companies, allowing them to choose who they want to cover and who would be left without care.
"KellyCare" is not the first time Kelly Ayotte has tried to let insurance companies dictate the coverage of families in the Granite State. In 2003, when Ayotte was serving as a top advisor for Governor Benson, the Administration passed SB 110, a disastrous piece of legislation that sought to reform small business health insurance by easing restrictions on insurance companies.
The Benson-Ayotte signature health insurance reform bill allowed "insurers to set rates based on rating factors for age, group size, type of industry, geographic location, and health status." In 2005, the Concord Monitor wrote that the bill "allowed health insurance companies to charge sick people many times more money than they charge the young and healthy." [Union Leader, 4/24/03; 4/4/03; Concord Monitor, Editorial, 6/10/05]
The Benson-Ayotte team ignored bipartisan criticism against the bill, which warned that giving so much control to insurance companies would devastate small businesses. The critics were accurate: "Under SB110, about 80 percent of businesses that renewed their yearly rates found that they had increases and 45 percent saw their insurance jump 30 percent or more, according to the Insurance Department." In fact, "some saw rates rise by 80 percent." [Concord Monitor, 3/25/05; Concord Monitor, Editorial, 6/10/05].
"Kelly Ayotte didn't learn her lesson the last time she listened to insurance companies instead of New Hampshire families," said Emily Browne, Press Secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "New Hampshire already knows what happens when insurance companies run the show - the sick lose coverage, rates for small businesses skyrocket, and families are stuck with back-breaking personal premiums. Despite that, as a candidate for US Senate, Kelly Ayotte is taking a page from the same failed, out-of-touch Republican playbook."
SB 110 was significantly backed by Health Insurance Association of America, a predecessor to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry group now dedicated to opposing the current health insurance reform in Congress [Union Leader, 4/24/03].
In 2005, the Republican-controlled State Senate twice voted on a bipartisan basis to approve legislation that repealed SB110. The legislation SB125 was signed into law by Governor Lynch [State Senate Vote 16, 3/24/05; State Senate Vote 38, 4/7/05].