Representatives approbate health care compact

Last modified: 2/16/2012 12:00:00 AM
The New Hampshire House voted yesterday to make state law trump all federal laws regarding health care, potentially allowing the state to avoid the impact of the Obama administration's health care overhaul.

"The nugget of House Bill 1560 is very simple: One size does not fit all," said Rep. Dan Itse, a Fremont Republican. "If you believe that our health care needs are unique to our state, that our population is not the same as the population of the other states, then we need to tailor our health care program to our constituents."

The bill passed the House in a veto-proof 253-92 vote. Itse said "part of this is getting rid of needless bureaucracy."

"Bureaucracy that eats up money that would be available to the health care of our constituents and not for the supply of those in government," Itse said.

House Bill 1560 creates an interstate compact that would be effective upon adoption by two other states and approval by the U.S. Congress.

"If they give us their consent for us to enter into these compacts, then guess what? We can. It is part of the supreme law of the land," Itse said.

The bill has been criticized by its Democratic opponents as a piece of model legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative Washington, D.C., policy group.

House Democratic Floor Leader Gary Richardson of Hopkinton said the bill is "both frivolous and dangerous, and most importantly it's unconstitutional."

"If this bill becomes law, New Hampshire would have to take over the entire administration of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care programs that are currently administered by the federal government," Richardson said. "The idea that the state could take over the administration of the entire health care system in New Hampshire and operate it more cheaply than the federal government can do it for us is absurd."

The bill ends federal rules and regulations but is "absolutely silent about what will be put in their place," Richardson said. New Hampshire would be left to administer a $2.92 billion federal block grant, he said.

"The only way that New Hampshire could operate Medicare and Medicaid more cheaply is to provide less eligibility and services," Richardson said. "When you hear someone saying that they want flexibility, what they're really saying is they want to spend less money providing health care to our citizens."

The bill now goes to the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee for review. It must also be voted on by the Senate.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or

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