Scott Brown accuses Shaheen of misleading NH with '09 'keep your insurance' promises
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Tuesday was accused of having "misled" Granite Staters four years ago when she twice declared that if the Affordable Care Act passes, Americans can keep their health insurance if they like it.
The chief accuser was Republican former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who has been a regular target of the Shaheen reelection campaign's fund-raising emails and who has been considering the possibility of establishing residency in the state and taking on Shaheen next year in the mid-term elections.
Brown said a month ago that the more the Shaheen camp criticizes him and implies that he is planning to run against her, "the more fired up I get."
Tuesday, Brown returned fire.
"Fortunately," Brown emailed UnionLeader.com, "New Hampshire voters will get an opportunity to hold Senator Shaheen accountable for her support of Obamacare when they head to the polls one year from today."
The state Republican Party also accused Shaheen of misleading the state.
Responding to both criticisms, Shaheen spokesman Shripal Shah said she "is working hard to make the health care law work for people in New Hampshire so they can get the coverage they need. She thinks it's unfortunate that some politicians are more interested in tearing up the law and leaving consumers with no healthcare coverage at all."
Shaheen continues to be a supporter of what has become known as "Obamacare," but has said the roll-out has been a "disaster" and has called for a delay in the open enrollment period and penalties for those who do not sign up.
But as the national uproar continues over President Barack Obama's promises regarding the ability of Americans to keep their health insurance if they like it, new disclosures reveal several lawmakers made the same promise as Obama to those who like their health coverage.
Among them was New Hampshire Democrat Shaheen, and her comments are on display on her U.S. Senate web site.
In August 2009, Shaheen, according to her web site, told "Emil from Salem" in a telephone town hall:
"(O)ne of the things I that I said as a requirement that I have for supporting a bill is that if you have health coverage that you like you should be able to keep that. Now, if you're someone who has lost your coverage or you're underinsured or you've lost your job and as a result have lost your coverage then I think that public option, which would hopefully be more affordable than the other choices that you have, then that would be a plan that would be open to you.
"But under every scenario that I've seen, if you have health coverage that you like, you get to keep it."
On the Senate floor in October 2009, Shaheen spoke to "dispel some of those myths" about health care reform and "focus on what really matters."
She said one myth was that health care reform "is a government takeover of our health care system. Now this is simply not true.
"Under the current legislation, everyone will have the freedom to keep their health care plan if they like it," she said.
She also said the plan was "consumer-based and market-driven" and would "promote competition."
Behind Shaheen in a video of her floor speech, posted on her web site, is a chart entitled "Health Reform Reality Check," with the phrase, "Keep your insurance if you like it."
Shaheen's spokesman had no immediate comment when asked what she based her 2009 comments on and whether she knew at the time that the Affordable Care Act would lead insurance companies to cancel policies.
Brown Tuesday afternoon emailed UnionLeader.com, "With its 18 new taxes and half trillion in cuts to Medicare, it was bad enough that Senator Shaheen cast the deciding vote for Obamacare. Now we're finding out that she repeatedly misled the people of New Hampshire, many are now learning that they in fact cannot keep their current health care plans. This is completely unacceptable.
"The American people didn't like Obamacare three years ago when the Democrats rammed it through Congress along party lines in the dead of night. They like it even less now that they're learning more about just how bad it really is."
State Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn accused Shaheen of making "blatantly false statements" and of misleading her constituents, and called on her to apologize.
State Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein responded to Horn, "The only ones who owe the people of New Hampshire an apology are Jennifer Horn and her D-list radical candidates who still have yet to put forward any new ideas for improving health care or the economy. If Horn and her Tea Party pals had her way, New Hampshire seniors would have been forced to pay $20 million dollars more for prescription medication, 81,000 Granite Staters would see higher insurance premiums and countless others would be denied health insurance entirely because of a preexisting condition."
Meanwhile, Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidate Gary Lambert called on U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster to give "middle-class Granite Staters some answers" on the ACA.
He asked her to say how many families have lost coverage and how many have called her office expressing concern about their coverage.
Kuster spokesman Rob Friedlander said she "is focused on making the ACA work and ensuring that Granite Staters have access to quality health care, not on partisan games that do nothing to solve problems."