As you might know, today began a two week special legislative session to address the issue of health care for low-income New Hampshire residents. If you have paid attention to the State House lately, you know this a policy question 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. Back in May, Senate Republicans removed the Medicaid provisions from the budget because we knew that passing them could have resulted in uncontrolled spending and lead the state to an income tax.
With that provision removed, Senate Republicans led the way in passing a balanced budget with no new taxes, no new fees, and limited spending. We are proud that our budget lived up to our conservative principles and passed both bodies of the legislature on a nearly unanimous vote.
As we did earlier this year, we continue to believe that growing the Medicaid entitlement and accepting a Washington one-size fits all plan, will break our budget and lead to a broad based tax. For that reason, Senate Republicans will continue to oppose Medicaid Expansion during the special session.
Instead, as leaders, we believe it is the responsibility of Senate Republicans to offer a viable plan for how we can work through the private market to attain coverage for low-income residents who struggle to afford health insurance coverage.
To meet that responsibility, we were proud today to introduce legislation that will increase access to private insurance coverage for upwards of 58,000 low-income New Hampshire residents. By maximizing available federal dollars, we believe we can provide better coverage for these citizens than would be offered under Medicaid and can do so through 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 ten years.
And unlike Medicaid Expansion, our private option plan will offer a hand-up and a path towards personal growth, as opposed to a hand-out and an extension of the entitlement culture.
We are pleased that the state’s largest newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, has recognized our proposal because of the health care reforms it includes (link the italics portion to here: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20131107/OPINION01/131109503). Through the public hearing process and at multiple public events Republican Senators will be holding across the state over the next few weeks, we hope you will take the opportunity to learn more about our plan. We truly believe that legislation like what we introduced today – a New Hampshire plan, not a Washington plan – could be the model for health care reform, and we are excited that once again New Hampshire and the Republican Party will be leading the way.
Please join me in talking to your family, friends and colleagues about the merits of this plan, and we look forward to working with all of you to enact this proposal into law later this month.
Chuck Morse Jeb Bradleyâ€¨
President, NH Senate Majority Leader, NH Senate