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CONCORD —The Executive Council Wednesday turned down $333,000 in federal money to do a study to determine if the state should establish a health insurance exchange.
Insurance commissioner Roger Sevigny told the councilors accepting the money did not obligate the state to institute an insurance exchange.
“To accept these funds commits us to nothing except to do a study and to present it to the Legislature,” Sevigny said. “If we do not establish a state-based exchanged, the feds will establish one for us.”
District 2 Executive Councilor Dan. St. Hilaire, R-Concord, said he had a letter saying the state could opt out at any time from the federal health care reform’s act insurance exchange plan.
Having the state establish its own exchange program is a “far better idea than having the feds come in and do it for us,” he said.
St. Hilaire and councilor Raymond Burton, R-Bath, voted to accept the money, while councilors Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, Ray Wieczorek, R-Manchester, and David Wheeler, R-Nashua, voted against accepting the federal funds.
The $333,000 is the last of $1 million in federal planning funds allocated to New Hampshire to begin an insurance exchange program. The council and the Legislature have already rejected $667,000 in funds and lawmakers voted to send that money back to Washington.
Many small business owners have complained about the rising cost of health care and some hoped the council would accept the money for the study.
Mary Hewitt, owner of Time for Change Embroidery in Concord said, “Health insurance is my biggest expense. I think the state should look into the best ways to implement an exchange in New Hampshire. Anything that could bring down costs for everyone is worth exploring.”
Addie Shankle, consumer advocate for NHPIRG , said an insurance exchange needs to be run by and for businesses and consumers, not by and for the very powerful insurance lobby.
The council also refused to take up 10 family planning contracts until Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas provides more information about their funding.
The contracts have been on the table since Oct. 12.
Some of the nation’s best-known companies—including GE, Google and Goldman Sachs—have avoided paying the taxes they owe, costing us $100 billion last year.
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