Sununu says he will not sign onto the GOP’s health care bill

Monitor staff
Published: 3/14/2017 12:31:25 PM

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said he does not support his party’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in its current form, citing concerns about the future of expanded Medicaid and federal mandates contained in the bill.

Recently unveiled by Congressional Republicans, Sununu said the Affordable Health Care Act is “definitely not a bill I’m signing onto.”

“The bill that’s been proposed in Congress gives us concerns on a lot of different levels, to be very blunt about it,” Sununu said during a Tuesday press conference. “What I’m seeing in Washington gives me a lot of pause – concern to be sure, not just on the Medicaid expansion front, because that would drastically affect New Hampshire, but just on the mandates that are coming out of it.”

Sununu said he wants to see a bill that gives more flexibility to New Hampshire, but he said that the uncertain future of expanded Medicaid also gives him pause.

“Expanded Medicaid is part of that discussion, there’s no doubt that expanded Medicaid has provided treatment options for a lot of folks that otherwise may not have had that option available,” Sununu said.

Estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday showed that the new bills would cut $880 billion in federal outlays for Medicaid over the next 10 years and would shed 14 million Medicaid enrollees by 2026.

Sununu said his office is continuing to work with President Donald Trump’s administration as well as New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to advocate for a bill that gives the state more flexibility.

Granite State lawmakers are waiting to see what happens at the federal level before they move forward.

The Republican-led state Senate is expected to table a bill Thursday that would have reauthorized expanded Medicaid for another two years, until 2020.

“It’s still way too premature to be trying to shape our policy,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican and supporter of the health care program.

Expanded Medicaid is set to expire in 2018, unless the Legislature votes to extend it. The federal government pays the bulk of the program’s costs, and Republicans have been reluctant to use any state taxpayer money to pay for it.

Under the current law, the state is covering its share of expansion costs through contributions from hospitals and insurance carriers.

(Allie Morris contributed to this report. Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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