At least twice in the past week, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has justified her support for President Obama's health care reform initiative by pointing out that only two major health insurers do business in New Hampshire. She ought to know. She's the one responsible for that.
In 1994, legislators passed Senate Bill 711, sponsored by state Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The bill introduced what is called "community rating" to the state's health insurance market. Insurers in the small-group market (businesses with fewer than 100 employees) were forbidden from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and certain demographic factors. They were allowed to charge the old only three times what they charged the young.
At the time the law passed, 26 insurers offered coverage in New Hampshire's small-group market. Only eight years later, there were just five. Twelve years after the law passed, Rhode Island conducted a study of New Hampshire's health insurance market to see what legislators there could learn. They found that Shaheen's bill drove insurers out of the state and raised the cost of insurance for younger, healthier residents while lowering it for the old and sick.
A lack of government regulations is not the reason Granite Staters have so few health insurers to choose from. An excess of regulations is. And that excess was brought to us by Jeanne Shaheen.
Trust her on health insurance reform again? We don't think so.