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November 26. 2013 7:09PM

Rep. Mark Warden: NH does not want or need expanded Medicaid

The hard-working taxpayers of New Hampshire dodged a bullet last week when the state Senate killed a House bill to expand Medicaid in the Granite State. The expansion would have cost tens of millions of dollars in future budget cycles, invariably leading to renewed calls for an income tax or state sales tax to pay for large spending increases.

Do you want to take a cut in pay? Do you want less money in your bank account each month? In effect, that is what you will get from a broad-based tax. Any new tax will lead to less disposable income for you to spend on the things you need.

People in most towns already feel over-burdened by high property taxes. Yet politicians in Washington and Concord continue to concoct ever more government programs and giveaways that increase the tax burden of every citizen. This latest attempt, an offshoot of Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA), was rammed down the throats of citizens and legislators by House Democrats and the governor.

The public isn't clamoring for more government programs, yet big-government elected officials continue to try to buy more votes by promising more goodies for more people — without regard to future expenditures. Your children and grandchildren will be forced to pay the cost of this profligate spending. Is that the kind of financial burden you want to leave to the next generation?

New Hampshire has a proud heritage of fiscal conservatism. In keeping with our heritage, the state should be encouraging self-reliance, not promoting dependency through additional state programs. Inviting expanded Medicaid and implementation of a state-run health care exchange is precisely the wrong way to go. We should be encouraging free markets to spur innovation and competition, which is the only path to superior services, lower prices and more choices for everyone.

Imagine a marketplace with a wide variety of choices in policies and premiums tailored to the needs and financial capabilities of individuals and businesses — not to some bureaucrat's idea of what constitutes a "quality" health insurance plan.

We can thank Republicans in this state for pushing back against the reckless Obamacare juggernaut. Let's show Washington, D.C., that we don't want its "free" expanded programs. No program is free, after all; there are always strings attached, and exploding federal debt must be paid by the next generation. It is the worst kind of irresponsible governance to borrow from our children to pay for today's public excesses.

The latest polling numbers show that a majority of Americans are unhappy with Obamacare and want to see it changed or repealed. The rollout of the healthcare.gov website has been an abysmal failure. So why are Gov. Hassan and the state's Democrats rushing to jump on that socialized medicine bandwagon?

The fact is that New Hampshire doesn't want or need Obamacare. Granite State residents are already well covered through private insurance, Medicare, and the Healthy Kids program for children. A one-size-fits-all program is not going to make anyone better off and will leave most people worse off than they are now. Employers are already feeling the sting of new federal mandates, and it's going to get worse. Many will convert full-time employees to part-time. Some businesses will throttle back on growth or expansion because if they hit 50 employees they face expensive new regulations.

Medicaid expansion, part of the ACA boondoggle, would have put more people, including able-bodied workers, on the dole. People who are fully capable of taking care of themselves would be added to the rolls for subsidized medical care. That is certainly not fair to those who toil daily to provide for themselves and their families. People here should be proud of our strong work ethic, tradition of self-reliance, and generous private charity networks.

Nearly half of the states, including ours, have voted not to participate in parts of the mandate (state exchanges). New Hampshire Republicans will continue to do the right thing and promote independence and fiscal prudence for all who live here.

Mark Warden is a Republican state representative from Manchester.


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