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Entries in NH Republicans (129)

Wednesday
Jan152014

NH Senate Republicans Support Rebuilding Rainy Day Fund 

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

“New Hampshire’s Rainy Day Fund balance is inadequate.”

Concord, NH – New Hampshire Treasurer Catherine Provencher strongly recommended today that the Legislature transfer $15 million to help restore the state’s depleted Rainy Day Fund. Senate Republicans have called for such a transfer to rebuild New Hampshire’s lagging financial reserves. Provencher gave an informational briefing to the Senate Finance Committee on the state’s Revenue Stabilization Reserve Account, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.

“New Hampshire’s Rainy Day Fund balance is inadequate,” Provencher told the Finance Committee. “The entire $15 million should be allocated to the Rainy Day Fund.”

Finance Committee Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) echoed Provencher’s recommendation.

“As the Treasurer explained so well, we need to restore our state’s fiscal reserves by placing the entire $15 million we have available in the Rainy Day Fund,” Forrester said.

Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) also spoke on the need to rebuild the Rainy Day Fund.

“It is important that we begin to build up our reserves in the State’s Rainy Day Fund.  Our current fund balance of $9 million is less than 1 percent of our total operating budget and is about $100 million below a level that bond rating agencies would consider adequate,” Morse added.

 

BACKGROUND

The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget produced a surplus of over $72 million. The current budget anticipated spending $57 million of that surplus, leaving $15 million that could be saved.

Governor Hassan and Senate Democrats favor spending more of that surplus, in addition to the $57 million already being spent.  Senate Republicans want to set aside the remaining $15 million in the Rainy Day Fund, as Provencher recommends.

The Rainy Day Fund currently hold just $9.3 million, its lowest point in 22 years.

 

ATTACHMENT: Treasurer’s Rainy Day Fund Presentation

Thursday
Jan092014

NH Senate Republicans - Fleet Reform saves taxpayers a million miles a year

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

Bragdon and Senate GOP pushed for accountability over state cars

 

Concord, NH – Sen. Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) today congratulated state officials for cutting personal use of state vehicles by over a million miles a year. Bragdon was lead sponsor of legislation requiring more accountability by state departments in the non-business use of the state fleet, and reassignment of vehicles that had too many personal miles.

“For too long, New Hampshire government let managers drive state cars as a perk of their office,” Bragdon said. “By forcing agencies to account for how the state fleet is operating, we can better manage our resources, and make sure state cars are being driven for state business.”

Bragdon’s bill, SB 402, which passed overwhelmingly in 2010, requires state agencies to track personal use of state vehicles, such as when an employee uses a state car to commute from home to work. Vehicles that exceed 20% non-business use are sold or redistributed within the state fleet, unless the Department receives a waiver from the Governor and Legislative Fiscal Committee to keep the vehicle. The latest report submitted by the Department of Administrative Service show a reduction in non-business travel of 1,098,862 miles in just two years, cutting out personal use by 2/3rds.

The Department of Administrative Services estimates that the state fleet costs an average of $.55 per mile to operate, meaning that Bragdon’s bill is saving New Hampshire taxpayers over a half million dollars every year across state government.

“On rare occasions, letting a state employee drive a state car home for the night actually saves taxpayers money, but that should be the exception instead of the rule. And there’s no reason to give out state cars as perks to managers and department heads,” Bragdon explained. “We’ve reduced this personal use of state vehicles by 2/3rds in just two years, which shows that there are real savings in the state budget if we pay attention to the details.”

Thursday
Nov212013

NHDP - Senate Republicans Side With Tea Party Over Working Families, Reject Medicaid Expansion

Concord - Senate Republican are turning their back on thousands of hardworking New Hampshire families.  Republican Senate President Chuck Morse said no to Medicaid Expansion despite that fact that it would improve the health and economic security of working families and has been endorsed by some of the country's most conservative Republican Governors.  Morse's pathetic excuse for giving up and throwing in the towel was that there are "too many moving parts.

"Chuck Morse and his radical band of Tea Party sycophants in the state Senate should be utterly ashamed of themselves.  They had a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of Granite Staters and instead they sided with radical fringe of the Republican Party opposing commonsense solutions to expanding access to health care," said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director.  "New Hampshire Republicans are following the extreme and irresponsible ideology of Ted Cruz, refusing to compromise, and opposing everything health care related no matter the pain their reckless schemes will cause real people."

Republican Chris Christie in New Jersey, Republican Jan Brewer in Arizona, Republican Rick Scott in Florida and other Republican governors across the country have all announced they will be accepting the federal funding for expansion.  Christie said,  “accepting these federal resources will provide health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income New Jerseyans, help keep our hospitals financially healthy and actually save money for New Jersey taxpayers.” 

With independent experts projecting that Medicaid Expansion would bring $2.5 billion into New Hampshire's economy, create new jobs, and save the state $92 million, a bipartisan committee recommended the state expand Medicaid.  Republican State Senator Nancy Stiles voted for the recommendation, and the Governor and House's proposal based on it received bipartisan support in the House Finance Committee.

Clearly Morse never really wanted to compromise.  After putting out a flawed, unworkable, unfeasible plan, he left the negotiating table for newspaper editorial boards said in his mind the alternative was to "delay expansion entirely."  A fellow Republican lawmaker from Morse's own district admitted that his constituents wanted Medicaid expansion.  One of Morse's Republican colleagues in the state senate admitted that the GOP plan was fundamentally flawed and could require an "emergency fix" in just a few months.  Independent experts and the state Department of Insurance both warned Morse's plan could force thousands of Granite Staters off their insurance during the holidays next year.

"The radical Republican decision to return hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the federal government instead of investing it it New Hampshire is bad fiscal policy, bad health policy, and bad economic policy," continued Kirstein.  "Did self aggrandizing 'numbers guy' Chuck Morse leave his calculator behind when he became senate president or did he do the math and simply doesn't care about helping working New Hampshire families.  Either way he owes New Hampshire voters an explanation as to why their tax dollars wont be invested in strengthening the health and economic security of Granite State families."

 

FACT: Senator Morse's Real Intentions Were To Delay, Don't Compromise, Do Nothing.
WMUR: Democratic Gov And House Speaker Compromise On Medicaidexpansion; GOP Senate Balks. "With the commission’s work done and the legislature now in the middle of a special session to choose a path forward, Gov. Maggie Hassan and state House Speaker Terie Norelli, both Democrats, said they would incorporate some ideas from Senate Republican leaders to pass a bill when the legislature meets next Thursday." [WMUR, 11/13/2013]

Portsmouth Herald: Deadline looming for N.H. House, Senate Medicaid Deal."Richard Albertoni, of Public Consulting Group, told the House Finance Committee that if New Hampshire adopts too ambitious an implementation time-line, there might not be enough insurance companies offering products to provide competition. Albertoni, who is advising the state Insurance Department, said using the exchange for newly eligible adults under an expansion of Medicaid in 2015 would pose "significant risks" to its success." [Portsmouth Herald, 11/14/2013]

Nashua Telegraph: NH Governor Offers Medicaid Compromise; Senate President Slams It As ‘Unsustainable Entitlement.’ “Meanwhile, a private consultant working for the New Hampshire Insurance Department affirmed Hassan’s view that it would take state officials much longer than mid-2014 to have an infrastructure in place to help low-income adults purchase private insurance. ‘I would put a project at significant risk that approved Medicaid enrollment for premium assistance at January 2015,’ said Richard Albertoni with Public Consulting Group. He said the proposed House deadline of January 2017 was achievable.” [Nashua Telegraph, 11/14/2013]

Union Leader: NH Democrats say GOP proposal for Medicaid coverage 'unworkable.' "'We need to be very, very careful how we go about doing the premium assistance piece,” Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny told the House Finance Committee Wednesday. “If it’s 2015, we’re heading for the rocks, while 2017 gives us enough time.'"  [Union Leader, 11/14/2013]

Fact: Republicans Ignored Evidence Medicaid Expansion Would Strengthen The Economic Security And Health Of Countless New Hampshire Families.

Lewin Group: Moving forward with Medicaid Expansion would bring $2.5 billion into the economy, create 700 jobs, and save the state $92 million. [Lewin Group, Jan 2013]


Think Tank: Postponing Medicaid Expansion Even By One Year Would Cost An NH Irreplaceable $340 Billion. Economic and heath care policy experts at the NHFPI predict that "If New Hampshire delays, it would lose out for a year - maybe more - on the 100 percent federal match.  In detailed reports assessing the impact of theMedicaid expansion on New Hampshire, the Lewin Groupestimated that a one-year delay would reduce the federal funds coming into New Hampshire by $340 million." [NHFPI, 5/28/2013]

STUDY: "Medicaid Virtually Wiped Out Crippling Medical Expenses Among The Poor." "The big news is that Medicaid virtually wiped out crippling medical expenses among the poor: The percentage of people who faced catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures (that is, greater than 30 percent of annual income) declined from 5.5 percent to about 1 percent. In addition, the people on Medicaid were about half as likely to experience other forms of financial strain-like borrowing money or delaying payments on other bills because of medical expenses." [The New Republic, 5/1/2013]

STUDY: "People On Medicaid Ended Up With Significantly Better Mental Health." "The other big finding was that people on Medicaid ended up with significantly better mental health: The rate of depression among Medicaid beneficiaries was 30 percent lower than the rate of depression among people who remained uninsured. That's not just good health policy. That's good fiscal policy, given the enormous costs that mental health problems impose on society-by reducing productivity, increasing the incidence of violence and self-destructive behavior, and so on." [The New Republic,5/1/2013

Accepting Federal Funding for Expanded Medicaid Would Bring NH A "Number of Economic Benefits." The non-partisan New Hampshire fiscal policy institute found, "if New Hampshire takes the federal money, it will enjoy a number of economic benefits as well. It will gain an average of 5,100 new jobs; the state will enjoy a $2.8 billion increase in gross state product; personal income will increase by more than $2 billion, and; household spending on health care will drop by almost $100 million statewide." [NHFPI Testimony, 5/9/2013]

STUDY: Refusing to Expand Medicaid Will Be “More-Costly,” Require States Higher Spending on Uncompensated Care.  A non-partisan study revealed, “State policymakers should be aware that if they do not expand Medicaid, fewer people will have health insurance, and that will trigger higher state and local spending for uncompensated medical care,” Price said. “Choosing to not expand Medicaid may turn out to be the more-costly path for state and local governments.” [The Hill, 6/3/2013]

 
Fact: Conservative Republican Governor’s Support Medicaid Expansion to improve health and economic security.

Some of the most conservative Republican Governors in the country are accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion.  Republican ChrisChristie in New Jersey, Republican John Kasich in Ohio, Republican Rick Scott in Florida and other Republicans across the country have all announced they will be accepting the federal funding for expansion. [National Medicaid Map]

GOP Governor Christie: Expansion will save taxpayers money. In announcing plans to accept federal funding for expanded Medicaid Christie said, “accepting these federal resources will provide health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income New Jerseyans, help keep our hospitals financially healthy and actually save money for New Jersey taxpayers.” [Forbes, 2/26/2013]

GOP Governor Brewer is Vetoing Any Legislation That Reaches Her Desk Before Expansion. Republican Govnernor Jan Brewer is “so determined to put the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in place in her state that she’s vetoing any legislation that reaches her desk until the Republican Legislature caves.” [Politico, 6/5/2013]

Wednesday
Oct022013

NH Senate Republicans Issue Statement on Medicaid Expansion Commission Work

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

Concord, NH – Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) issued the following statement today in response to Medicaid Expansion Commission as they begin to put together their recommendations:

Senator President Chuck Morse said, “We appreciate the commission’s hard work to date.  However, simply adding more people to the existing Medicaid program on January 1 is not an option that is financially sustainable and affordable to hard working New Hampshire families in the long term. 

‘We share the goal of providing better access to affordable healthcare coverage for low-income New Hampshire citizens.  The recent approval of an Arkansas Medicaid waiver shows us we can move to a private insurance option quickly in a way that works for New Hampshire. We look forward to developing a bipartisan New Hampshire solution with private insurance.”

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said, “Senate Republicans continue to be concerned with a Washington driven Medicaid plan that totally depends upon a very uncertain federal funding promise of 90% funding. Given our nation’s $17 trillion deficit, New Hampshire taxpayers cannot afford a Washington promise that is likely to prove unsustainable. New Hampshire taxpayers are all too familiar with Washington's broken special education promises.  We cannot afford to repeat that with Medicaid Expansion.” 

Wednesday
Sep252013

NHSenateRepublicanCaucus - ICYMI: Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices

Senator Sanborn and the CEO of Monadnock Community Hospital were recently quoted in a NYT article on fewer choices for consumers with restricted healthcare networks.
 
 
 
Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices
 
 
Published: September 22, 2013
 
 
 
WASHINGTON — Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.
 
From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.
 
When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers.
 
Some consumer advocates and health care providers are increasingly concerned. Decades of experience with Medicaid, the program for low-income people, show that having an insurance card does not guarantee access to specialists or other providers.
 
Consumers should be prepared for “much tighter, narrower networks” of doctors and hospitals, said Adam M. Linker, a health policy analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center, a statewide advocacy group.
 
“That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher-quality providers,” Mr. Linker said. “But there is also a risk because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.”
 
Insurers say that with a smaller array of doctors and hospitals, they can offer lower-cost policies and have more control over the quality of health care providers. They also say that having insurance with a limited network of providers is better than having no coverage at all.
 
Cigna illustrates the strategy of many insurers. It intends to participate next year in the insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Texas.
 
“The networks will be narrower than the networks typically offered to large groups of employees in the commercial market,” said Joseph Mondy, a spokesman for Cigna.
 
The current concerns echo some of the criticism that sank the Clinton administration’s plan for universal coverage in 1993-94. Republicans said the Clinton proposals threatened to limit patients’ options, their access to care and their choice of doctors.
 
At the same time, House Republicans are continuing to attack the new health law and are threatening to hold up a spending bill unless money is taken away from the health care program.
 
In a new study, the Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consulting company, says that “insurers passed over major medical centers” when selecting providers in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, among other states.
 
“Doing so enables health plans to offer lower premiums,” the study said. “But the use of narrow networks may also lead to higher out-of-pocket expenses, especially if a patient has a complex medical problem that’s being treated at a hospital that has been excluded from their health plan.”
 
In California, the statewide Blue Shield plan has developed a network specifically for consumers shopping in the insurance exchange.
 
Juan Carlos Davila, an executive vice president of Blue Shield of California, said the network for its exchange plans had 30,000 doctors, or 53 percent of the 57,000 doctors in its broadest commercial network, and 235 hospitals, or 78 percent of the 302 hospitals in its broadest network.
 
Mr. Davila said the new network did not include the five medical centers of the University of California or the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center near Beverly Hills.
 
“We expect to have the broadest and deepest network of any plan in California,” Mr. Davila said. “But not many folks who are uninsured or near the poverty line live in wealthy communities like Beverly Hills.”
 
Daniel R. Hawkins Jr., a senior vice president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, which represents 9,000 clinics around the country, said: “We serve the very population that will gain coverage — low-income, working class uninsured people. But insurers have shown little interest in including us in their provider networks.”
 
Dr. Bruce Siegel, the president of America’s Essential Hospitals, formerly known as the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, said insurers were telling his members: “We don’t want you in our network. We are worried about having your patients, who are sick and have complicated conditions.”
 
In some cases, Dr. Siegel said, “health plans will cover only selected services at our hospitals, like trauma care, or they offer rock-bottom payment rates.”
 
In New Hampshire, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a unit of WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest insurers, has touched off a furor by excluding 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from the health plans that it will sell through the insurance exchange.
 
Christopher R. Dugan, a spokesman for Anthem, said that premiums for this “select provider network” were about 25 percent lower than they would have been for a product using a broad network of doctors and hospitals.
 
Anthem is the only commercial carrier offering health plans in the New Hampshire exchange.
 
Peter L. Gosline, the chief executive of Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H., said his hospital had been excluded from the network without any discussions or negotiations.
 
“Many consumers will have to drive 30 minutes to an hour to reach other doctors and hospitals,” Mr. Gosline said. “It’s very inconvenient for patients, and at times it’s a hardship.”
 
State Senator Andy Sanborn, a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said, “The people of New Hampshire are really upset about this.”
 
Many physician groups in New Hampshire are owned by hospitals, so when an insurer excludes a hospital from its network, it often excludes the doctors as well.
 
David Sandor, a vice president of the Health Care Service Corporation, which offers Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, said: “In the health insurance exchange, most individuals will be making choices based on costs. Our exchange products will have smaller provider networks that cost less than bigger plans with a larger selection of doctors and hospitals.”
 
Premiums will vary across the country, but federal officials said that consumers in many states would be able to buy insurance on the exchange for less than $300 a month — and less than $100 a month per person after taking account of federal subsidies.
 
“Competition and consumer choice are actually making insurance affordable,” Mr. Obama said recently.
 
Many insurers are cutting costs by slicing doctors’ fees.
 
Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, a cancer specialist in Albuquerque, said that insurers in the New Mexico exchange were generally paying doctors at Medicare levels, which she said were “often below our cost of doing business, and definitely below commercial rates.”
 
Outsiders might expect insurance companies to expand their networks to treat additional patients next year. But many insurers see advantages in narrow networks, saying they can steer patients to less expensive doctors and hospitals that provide high-quality care.
 
Even though insurers will be forbidden to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, they could subtly discourage the enrollment of sicker patients by limiting the size of their provider networks.
 
“If a health plan has a narrow network that excludes many doctors, that may shoo away patients with expensive pre-existing conditions who have established relationships with doctors,” said Mark E. Rust, the chairman of the national health care practice at Barnes & Thornburg, a law firm. “Some insurers do not want those patients who, for medical reasons, require a broad network of providers.”
 
 
A version of this article appears in print on September 23, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Lower Premiums To Come At Cost Of Fewer Choices.