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CONCORD – President Barack Obama’s New Hampshire re-election campaign touted the success stories of the Affordable Care Act on Monday, as the federal health care mandate hangs in the balance before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“President Obama is making sure New Hampshire citizens are put back in control of their own health care,” said state Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, a former House committee chairman on health issues.
House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, led the opposition, bemoaning that Gov. John Lynch and Attorney General Michael Delaney failed to join the lawsuit challenging the law.
O’Brien branded the federal law a job killer that will balloon the nation’s debt.
“We are going to have a substantially more sluggish economy if we don’t, by court action or legislation, do away with this disastrous health care law,” O’Brien said.
A progressive research group that did a select survey of small-business owners found strong support for creating a state health exchange in New Hampshire, one of only two states in the country to turn down a federal grant to help set one up.
Addie Shankle with the New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group said she was most surprised that 73 percent of business owners who were asked said they wanted a state exchange empowering them to reject health care insurance rates that were too costly.
Only 11 percent said they thought their concerns were met in the ongoing debate over a state health exchange.
“At a time when only 11 percent of small-business owners feel heard by leaders in Concord, lawmakers under the Golden Dome should take note,” Shankle said. “Small-business owners have shown a clear consensus favoring a strong, consumer-run health care exchange in New Hampshire.”
The Sunday Telegraph first reported the Obama campaign’s claims that 542,000 families in New Hampshire no longer have lifetime health insurance caps, 434,000 don’t have out-of-pocket costs for preventative care and the 900 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year no longer fear health insurance price discrimination.
“Thanks to President Obama’s historic health reform, women can now get the preventive care they need without co-pays, fewer young people have to worry about being uninsured and Medicare is stronger for our seniors,” said Dr. Sarah Henry of Concord.
House Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker, R-Greenfield, said high-tech firms like Salient Surgical in Portsmouth are bearing the brunt of a new tax on medical devices to help pay for the federal law.
“This is going to lead to increased costs and products for our employers,” Tucker said.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, noted Delaney fought legislative attempts to force state prosecutors to join the 26 states suing the Obama administration.
“New Hampshire is sitting on the sidelines of the lawsuit as it relates to a legal perspective, and I think that is very unfortunate,” Bettencourt said.
The state Supreme Court ultimately decided in favor of the attorney general, ruling the Legislature lacked the authority to order the executive branch to act.
On the state health exchange, Lynch has lobbied for the state to create one, while O’Brien has convinced the House to pass a pending bill that would prevent one and even block Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny from cooperating with the Obama administration on a federal exchange for the state.
“Whether it’s a state or a federal exchange, there will be no control here,” said O’Brien, warning it could cost the state as much as $15 million a year to run.
“New Hampshire does not need, and should not assume the additional burden of, a state health exchange,” O’Brien said.
Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or email@example.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.
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