Republican Leaders Surprised at State Exchange Flip Flop in Medicaid Expansion Bill

CONCORD – Today House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) and Assistant House Republican Leader and Ranking Republican on the House Commerce Committee, John Hunt (R-Rindge) released statements relative to provisions in Special Session House Bill 1 (Section 8)  that repeal the prohibition of and establishes a New Hampshire Health Benefit Marketplace.


On October 22, the House Commerce Committee voted unanimously (20-0) to recommend killing HB544, a bill that repealed the prohibition on a state based marketplace and advocated state agencies, “plan for, participate in, contract with any private entity regarding, and interact with the federal government with respect to, the creation of a health benefit exchange for New Hampshire.”

After the vote, Committee Chair Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) said of a state based exchange, “This just isn’t the right time to pursue it.”

Just one day prior to the Commerce Committee vote to kill the bill repealing the prohibition, Governor Hassan’s spokesperson called for the repeal of the prohibition.

In 2012, HB1297, establishing the prohibition of  a state health care exchange, was passed both the House and Senate via voice votes and was signed by Governor John Lynch.

Assistant Republican Leader John Hunt (R-Rindge):

“In just over 2 weeks, we’ve seen Democrats in Concord unable to make up their minds on this issue in pretty dramatic fashion. First House Democrats split with Governor Hassan and roundly reject a bill that would have allowed for a state insurance marketplace, saying it wasn’t necessary. Just 15 days later, Democrats unveil a flagship piece of legislation that, in part, does just that.”

“On the House floor on Thursday, I voiced my concern that this special session bill is not only being rushed through the legislative process, but also that the process has been less than transparent. Any piece of legislation having to do with insurance markets traditionally would go to the House Commerce committee prior to going to House Finance. Had this bill been introduced during the regular session, it would receive a full and proper vetting by all the proper committees, including the Commerce committee, that already rejected this concept. I hope my colleagues on Finance follow our bi-partisan example and delete this provision from the bill.”

House Republican Leader Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett):

“This is another example of why Republicans were justified in unanimously rejecting the introduction of the Special Session bill on Thursday, prior to being able to read the bill. We were lead to believe the bill would mirror the Medicaid Expansion Commission’s recommendation. Now that we’ve read the bill, we keep identifying things in it that were never part of the commission’s report. Not only was this not part of the report, the concept was unanimously rejected by a House committee just over 2 weeks ago. This entire process looks like something we’d see out of the dysfunction of Washington, D.C.”