January 17, 2017

Hassan Warns on Obamacare Repeal as First Step in Scrapping the Law Completed

Source:  NH1 News

Hassan Warns on Obamacare Repeal as First Step in Scrapping the Law Completed

CONCORD – On the same day that Congressional Republicans accomplished their first major step in repealing the federal health care law, Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan warned that scrapping Obamacare would pull “the rug out from under people.”

The U.S. House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted 227-198 to pass a budget blueprint that serves as a vehicle for repealing the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. Two-hundred and twenty seven GOP lawmakers voted for the measure, with nine Republicans crossing the aisle and voting with the minority Democrats.

Among the Democrats voting against the budget were New Hampshire’s two representatives, Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter in the first district and Annie Kuster in the second district.

A day and a half earlier, Republicans pushed the budget blueprint through the U.S. Senate by a 51-48 party line vote. Hassan and fellow Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, the Granite State’s senior senator, voted against the bill.

The budget blueprint prevents Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to derail a bill repealing and replacing the law. That's critical because it takes 60 votes to end filibusters, while Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the chamber.

For Republicans, the real work comes next. They must decide which parts of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement to erase and which to keep, and what a new health care law would look like, and how to protect the 20 million Americans receiving health coverage under the nearly seven-year old law.

Around five hours before the U.S. House voted, Hassan held a roundtable discussion at Riverbend Community Mental Health Center in Concord. Hassan discussed the impact repealing the federal health care law, including Medicaid Expansion which is provided in Obamacare, would have on New Hampshire and the state’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic.

Around 60,000 Granite Staters receive their medical insurance through the state’s Medicaid Expansion program, which is paid for mostly with federal funds. Medicaid Expansion also funds parts of the state’s substance misuse prevention and treatment programs.

Hassan asked the panel, which consisted of Riverbend leadership and clinicians, as well as Concord Police Chief Bradley Osgood and state Sen. Dan Feltes, what she “should be thinking about or talking about as we begin what is turning into a battle in Washington.”

Hassan argued that to “repeal the ACA means that the federal dollars that have come into the state to cover these services go away with. And that puts a huge strain on the state budget.”

“We have drawn down hundreds of millions of federal dollars to pay for behavioral health and substance abuse care among other things under the Affordable Care Act, especially under Medicaid Expansion. If that goes away, to your point the need doesn’t go away, Hassan added.

And she warned “this would have the impact of literally pulling the rug out from under people. And it’s really critical that folks understand that.”