Key Point: "On the eve of Wednesday’s opening for the 2014 legislative session, the website lampooned all 13 GOP senators as having “sided with Tea Party Republicans” costing the state up to $500,000 for every day they fail to vote to expand Medicaid. Every GOP senator’s photograph has a red stamp that reads “Fiscally Irresponsible” over it."
Nashua Telegraph: Site targets GOP senators that fail to back Medicaid expansion
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
CONCORD – New Hampshire Democratic leaders unveiled a new aggressive website targeting Republican senators as long as they resist delivering federally financed health insurance for more than 50,000 residents.
On the eve of Wednesday’s opening for the 2014 legislative session, the website lampooned all 13 GOP senators as having “sided with Tea Party Republicans” costing the state up to $500,000 for every day they fail to vote to expand Medicaid.
Every GOP senator’s photograph has a red stamp that reads “Fiscally Irresponsible” over it.
The Telegraph got a sneak preview of the site before it was linked to the party’s own main Web address Wednesday.
“Every second that passes, New Hampshire forfeits more money that could have been invested in the Granite State economy and helped thousands of working families find health care,” the Democratic Party website states.
The site updates the “cost” in lost federal aid every second.
“This new organizing tool will allow concerned taxpayers across the state to communicate exactly how much Republican state senators siding with the tea party over the people of New Hampshire is costing constituents second by second, in real time,” said Harrell Kirstein, the Democratic party’s communications director.
The federal aid amounts are broken down by state senate district based on the population data Planned Parenthood of Northern New England put together, party officials said.
“This isn’t some theoretical number that keeps getting an update minute after minute. It’s lost money for New Hampshire due to the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party,” Kirstein said during a telephone interview.
The site is at NHDP.org/MedicaidExpansion.
Gregory Moore is state director of Americans for Prosperity, a fiscally conservative group that has opposed Medicaid expansion.
“The notion that not spending $500,000 in federal taxpayer money per day is fiscally irresponsible shows just how disconnected from reality some people in government have become. This is a Washington affliction that seems to think that if you buy your lunch with money from your left pocket, and not your right, then it is somehow free,” Moore said. “Sadly for these misguided souls, the people of New Hampshire know that wasting a half a million dollars a day on a program that doesn’t improve health outcomes and makes everyone wait longer to get care in the emergency room is what is truly ‘fiscally irresponsible.’ ”
The site also makes it easy for local town and county democratic committees to embed a ticker onto their own websites.
On Tuesday night, Democratic state party officials sent an alert to its local activist base, comparing New Hampshire Republicans to conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his rally last November for a federal government shutdown unless the Affordable Care Act was repealed.
“Senate Republicans are following Ted Cruz’s lead. If they can’t get their way then they won’t pass anything – no matter the pain they will inflict on New Hampshire families,” the Democratic e-mail said, encouraging supporters to share the new website on social media sites.
AFP’s Moore said Democratic Party operatives deliberately overstate the impact of putting 58,000 more residents on Medicaid.
“What the New Hampshire Democratic Party isn’t telling the public the fact that 20,600 of these people already have high-quality private insurance and another 11,600 just received access to heavily subsidized health insurance through the exchange,” Moore said. “The notion that Medicaid expansion would reduce the uninsured by 58,000 is just flatly inaccurate.”
New Hampshire is one of only eight states yet to weigh in on whether it would expand Medicaid, which is already the single, biggest spending item in the two-year state budget.
Currently, Medicaid covers about 130,000 people and since Dec. 1 most were enrolled in an HMO-style managed care program designed to save costs and promote wellness.
Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said she and co-author Rep. Thomas Sherman, D-Rye, have proposed a significant change to allow the poorest of the target population to be on managed Medicaid but not have to buy commercial insurance on the exchange.
Those making 100 percent ($11,500 per year) to 138 percent of federal poverty line could try to buy private coverage on the exchange or marketplace under the Affordable Care Act under the Rosenwald-Sherman plan.
Federal Medicaid benefits for that person could be used to reduce the costs of premiums bought on the exchange.
The exchange option would not begin until Jan. 1, 2017, at the earliest under the House plan.
Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the upper chamber won’t vote for any Medicaid expansion that fails to make all those in the target population have to purchase private insurance on the exchange.
The transition also should happen next January and not have to wait two or more years to occur, Morse said.