NH lawmakers divided over health overhaul funds

NH lawmakers divided over health overhaul funds

AP Republican lawmakers insist the latest attempt to bring federal funding for the Affordable Care Act to New Hampshire violates state law, while

The state insurance department was awarded a $5 million grant to educate consumers about the federal health overhaul law before enrollment in new online insurance markets starts Oct. 1, but Republicans blocked the state from accepting it. Last week, the insurance department said a different group the quasigovernmental, nonprofit New Hampshire Health Plan had applied to accept the money instead.

That move has the backing of Democratic Gov. , who angered Republicans in February by deciding to have the state partner with the federal government to both manage the health plans offered in the new markets and provide consumer assistance.

Governor Hassan supports the Health Plans application in order to ensure that statelevel experts who best understand New Hampshires insurance market and the needs of our people are the ones providing assistance and information to families, individuals and small businesses looking to access critical health coverage not the federal government, Hassans spokesman, , said Tuesday.

But Republican members of the Legislatures argue that Hassan and the insurance department are trying to circumvent lawmakers. State law specifies that committee shall determine all policies regarding implementation of the federal law, said Sen. , RBedford.

Its pretty darn clear, he said. We weighed in on this in the Legislature, we weighed in on this in the and we weighed in on this in the Health Reform Oversight Committee. The fact that any governor or any commissioner would try to circumvent will of the Legislature should throw up a real red flag.

Sen. , RWolfeboro, argued that New Hampshire Health Plan, which operates the states highrisk pool, is a state entity and thus subject to legislative approval. And he insists that the state has never formally entered into a partnership with the federal government for consumer assistance because the insurance department never provided the committee with a detailed memorandum of understanding.

There is no consumer assistance partnership, he said. It does not exist.

Democrats on the committee said the New Hampshire Health Plan doesnt need the committees permission to pursue the funding and that they fully back the groups application.

Connecting consumers and experts is essential, Sen. , Rep. and Rep. said in a statement.

The actions taken by Republican members of this committee and the Legislature to block the from using the $5.4 million federal consumer assistance grant were extremely misguided and hurt New Hampshire consumers, the lawmakers said.

spokesman said lawmakers shouldnt be telling independent nonprofits how to operate, and he accused Republicans of following a national campaign strategy to disrupt implementation of the federal law in hopes that the resulting mess will win them votes in 2014.

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