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Union Leader: Bipartisan Senate bill could help NH reduce premiums

A critical way for New Hampshire to at least try to soften the blow of overwhelming rate increases for health insurance in the individual market has surfaced in a bipartisan health care reform bill in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-N.H., urged key senators to include this provision which would allow the state to create a reinsurance pool which as desired is not permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act.

…“In New Hampshire, for example, the state would like to use Medicaid savings to help pay for the cost of its Affordable Care Act waiver and this would allow that,” Alexander said last week.

Hassan serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that reported out this bill.

“This bipartisan bill is an important step forward in our efforts to stabilize health insurance markets and lower costs for hard-working Americans, and it reinforces that it is possible to work across party lines to make progress in our health care system,” Hassan said. “It is clear that this bill has the votes to pass, and I strongly urge Leader McConnell to bring this bill to the floor for a vote without delay.”

Shaheen and Hassan were two of the 12 Democrats to co-author the measure along with 12 Republicans.

…New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny had written Alexander in September, requesting this reinsurance provision.

Under the plan, New Hampshire would create a fund for health insurers to cover those customers with the highest costs and highest health risks, many of whom are on the Medicaid health insurance program.

The state would save money by having these people continue to have insurance. This provision would allow the state to use those savings to reduce the premiums that would be charged to the customers.