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November 20. 2013 6:22PM

Medicaid choices: The Senate plan or nothing

Back in February, Gov. Maggie Hassan was pushing for the state to create its own health insurance exchange under Obamacare. "I do not believe it is in the best interest of our people to allow the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all exchange on New Hampshire," she said. She did not mean a word of it, as we now see.

Hassan said back then that the issue was really about local control. We should not let Washington set health care policy for New Hampshire, she said. She hoped then that people would ignore her support for Obamacare, which does exactly that. Now she hopes people ignore her February support for local control.

For the last several weeks, Hassan has urged legislators to expand Medicaid in such a way that Washington would gain control of the medical care of tens of thousands of Granite Staters. When Senate Republicans proposed an alternative that left New Hampshire in charge of the program, she strongly opposed it.

Her voluminous double talk should give legislators pause. In another example, Hassan claims that enrolling 50,000 new people in Medicaid will not cost the state a dime because Washington will keep its promise to pick up the tab. But she insists that the state not include triggers to end New Hampshire's participation if Washington breaks that promise. She says the triggers could leave people without insurance coverage. But that could be true only if Washington breaks the promise she insists it will not break.

Legislators are set to vote today on Medicaid expansion. There are only two choices: Do nothing, or pass the Senate plan that leaves New Hampshire in charge and protects the state in the (inevitable) event that Washington does not come through with the funding. Even Hassan fears that Washington will renege on its promise. Every legislator should, too. Passing the Hassan/House plan to leave us at Washington's mercy is to pave the path to an income tax.


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