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Editorial: Disappointing votes from Kuster, Shea-Porter

Because the last Legislature blocked New Hampshire’s ability to create its own health-care exchange, residents are forced to use the federal version – the one with the sickly website. So far, there’s only a single New Hampshire insurer participating in the Affordable Care Act “marketplace.” And that player, Anthem, has created a narrow network of eligible providers that excludes 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals, including Concord Hospital. On top of all that, thousands of people have received insurance cancellation notices, even after being promised by President Obama that if they liked their existing plans, they could keep them. Other residents, those who might qualify for the expanded version of Medicaid recommended by the federal government, have been told they can’t get it because the state government hasn’t approved it – though, with luck, that will change this week.

It’s a mess, all right. So it’s little wonder that Democrats like U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter are under big-time pressure from constituents unhappy with Obamacare – and just as they’re starting to think about the 2014 elections.

Nonetheless, it was disappointing to see both New Hampshire congresswomen vote last week in favor of a Republican measure to unravel one of the key components of the new health care law.

At issue is a measure called the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.” It goes significantly further than the concession made last week by President Obama. First, it allows insurers to continue selling health plans available on the market now, even if they don’t meet Obamacare standards for benefits, pricing and availability. Second, it allows any policy sold to satisfy the requirement that every American carry comprehensive insurance or pay a fee.

In practical terms, that means insurers would not be prevented from refusing coverage to customers with pre-existing conditions. They could charge higher prices to sick people. They could offer plans that don’t cover such basics as prescription drugs or maternity care or mental health and substance abuse treatment. They wouldn’t have to cover preventive services at no cost to enrollees. And they wouldn’t have to comply with Obamacare limits on out-of-pocket costs – meaning patients could still face crushing health-care bills.

If younger, healthier people opted for these cheaper, skimpier plans, how would the exchanges manage to offer lower costs? Chances are, without a critical mass of participants, they wouldn’t.

Is this really what Kuster and Shea-Porter had in mind?

The bill, of course, is unlikely to go too far. The Senate doesn’t like it, and President Obama has threatened a veto. Still it is a measure of the pressure Democrats find themselves under that 39 in the House were willing to vote “yes” on such a scheme to send a message to both the president and their constituents.

Despite its discouraging rollout, the principals behind the Affordable Care Act remain sound. Unraveling the law with no replacement in mind makes no sense. There’s little doubt that the Republicans hoping to beat Kuster and Shea-Porter next fall will use Obamacare in their campaigns. The proper response from Democratic candidates – and from voters of all stripes: Got something better?

Legacy Comments8

Sorry liberals, progressives and Democrats, but even the NY Times, a newspaper that's carried more water for the Obama Administration than Gunga Din, has admitted that the PPACA (aka "Obamacare") was really about redistributing healthcare from those who have it to those who don't.

As with their globull warming alarmism the liberal Monitor has refused to debate that their BIG Govt solution is even a factual need. There is no "Right " to Health Insurance- PERIOD! The fact that democrats destroyed Health Savings Accounts proves they really don't care about fostering "individual responsibility". Liberals just assume the citizens love BIG Govt cradle to grave entitlements that are destroying our society.

Well I am certainly thankful that my family does not live in your warped idea of what this country stands for.. I guess we all know who would volunteer to lead the Department of Health Care Denial to determine who receives medical care and who must perish. Frankly I am not to concerned that your final solution would ever be accepted except by certain anarchist fringe elements. You need to revisit what it means to be a member of society. This ranks as one of your most disturbed posts PERIOD

I help the poor , disabled , elderly every day with my own time and money....Put a roof over a vets home last week - and you?

I wish I thought that "got something better?" was a response that would bring progress! But I can't quite see how that small but highly visible group of people in the individual market, which are those affected by this issue, would really appreciate their representative saying that! NH's piece of the Federal exchange is an expensive mess at this point, while those states whose legislatures decided to set up their own exchanges, with federal tax dollars to pay for it, are doing pretty well! (Why the "new GOP" has decided that getting some of our tax dollars back from the feds is a sin, I will never understand!) Since the President is making administrative changes that do something like the Upton bill (which will probably go no further), I can't get angry at our Congresswomen for trying to acknowledge the problem in a forceful way. Give them a break, the US House is a messy place to work these days. I'm with Congresswoman Shea-Porter, Medicare for all!

Nothing to see here folks, keep moving along. Same old song and dance.

sorry Lucy but the democrat tax borrow and spend machine borrows 40 cents of every dollar they spend...HINT citizens never get back anything close what we sent to DC but we do get the invoice for the borrowing

"If younger, healthier people opted for these cheaper, skimpier plans, how would the exchanges manage to offer lower costs? Chances are, without a critical mass of participants, they wouldn’t.".....I think I read that 8 times...and the answer is...the Federal Govt will go further into debt. Santa Claus will pick up the tab.

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