CONCORD – Today House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) offered the following statement in response to the Department of Insurance’s efforts to bypass the legislature and partner with the New Hampshire Health Plan (NHHP) to obtain millions in taxpayer dollars to fund Obamacare related bureaucracy.

Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), House Republican Leader:

“We have processes and committees in place to ensure we are careful stewards of taxpayer money. The Insurance Department, with the Governor’s support, appears to be thumbing their nose at the legislative process. It’s not difficult to see what is happening here. We have a department and an administration who are in a rush to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to fund Obamacare related bureaucracy. If their plan has merit, they should play by the rules and let it get an up or down vote by the legislative entities who have oversight. To do an end run around the legislature simply doesn’t pass the smell test. We’ll be exploring every option available to ensure this matter goes through the proper channels.”

“I share the concerns the Senate President expressed in his letter to Commissioner Sevigny. I look forward to the Commissioner’s response.”

Background:

On April 19th, the Joint Fiscal Committee, a statutory legislative committee made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, voted to table the Insurance Department’s request to accept a federal grant, which would fund education and consumer assistance programs under a state-federal insurance marketplace as part of Obamacare. On August 2nd, the Insurance Commissioner wrote the New Hampshire Health Exchange Advisory board indicating that the New Hampshire Health Plan (NHHP) is “well positioned” to accept the funds the Department “could not accept” and “undertake the role of facilitating New Hampshire-specific education and outreach about the Marketplace.”

NHHP is described as a “quasi-governmental” entity established under New Hampshire law, RSA 404-G. NHHP is a state high risk pool established to provide health insurance to NH residents who are declined coverage through the private market, have a pre-qualifying condition or are otherwise eligible. The NHHP is intended generally to be the insurer of last resort for New Hampshire residents.

Yesterday, Senate President Peter Bragdon sent a letter to Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny asking if he plans to bring the NHHP request before the Joint Committee on Health Care Reform Oversight Committee, that was established to oversee all aspects of the implementation of Obamacare. The Senate President also questions the authority of the NHHP, without legislative approval or enabling statues, to dramatically change their mission from managing the state’s high-risk pool and being the insurer of last resort to being an education and outreach entity. The high risk pool and NHHP are due to sunset at the end of the year.