Stepanek: Jasper leadership team soft on Medicaid expansion

A top supporter of Rep. Bill O’Brien says the majority leader appointed by Speaker Shawn Jasper appears to be soft on the Republican agenda.


Rep. Steve Stephanek, R-Amherst, took issue with the comments of Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, about how the House GOP leadership will approach Medicaid expansion – one of the top issues in the upcoming Legislature — in a weekend report.


Flanagan told The Associated Press House Republicans should be realistic with dealing with Medicaid expansion because state Senate Republican majority was supportive of the compromise plan signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan.


“I tried to temper their enthusiasm because we’ve got to get it across the wall,” meaning the Senate, Flanagan told the Associated Press.


In 2015, the state will learn from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) if it will receive a necessary waiver for the New Hampshire plan to continue. But even if f the waiver is granted, the plan would cease at the end of 2016 unless reauthorized by the Legislature because federal funding would drop below 100 percent. That provision, sometimes referred to as a “sunset,” was proposed by state Senate Republicans as part of a compromise with Gov. Maggie Hassan and legislative Democrats.


O’Brien, in November, the day after winning the House Republic caucus nomination for Speaker in a close vote over Rep. Gene Chandler, told the New Hampshire Journal, “One thing we will not do is renew the program with enabling legislation. We are not going to continue with bad decisions.”


O’Brien lost the final vote for House Speaker, however, when about 35 to 40 House Republicans joined 159 House Democrats to elect Jasper.


Democrats are pushing for renewal of the Medicaid expansion, with House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff telling The AP that making the Medicaid expansion program permanent will be his caucus’s top priority.


Stepanek said that “almost 95 percent” of House Republican opposed Medicaid expansion when the bill passed earlier this year. “And most of us ran and were elected to office opposing Medicaid expansion as ineffective and a huge cost to taxpayers down the road.


“My concern is that the majority leader (Flanagan) seems to be taking a very tepid view of Medicaid expansion and allowing the Democrats and Senate Republicans to set the stage for this. Telling his House colleagues that they have to be realistic in dealing with Medicaid expansion sounds to me like capitulation to the House Democrats. Was this part of the deal when Shawn Jasper was elected, that his leadership team would not make stopping Medicaid expansion a priority?


“I’m very concerned about his lack of support for Republican issues,” Stepanek said. “It really undermines what Republicans stand for and ran on.

O’Brien and Jasper have held opposing House GOP caucuses in the past few weeks. And O’Brien and hi allies will ask the full House to pass a rule change mandating Jasper to appoint the Republican caucus winner, O’Brien, as majority leader when the House meets for the first time on Jan. 7.


“If this is an example of how this leadership team will represent Republicans, or not represent Republicans, then Republican members have to ask themselves a question on Jan. 7,” Stepanek said.


Author: John DiStaso

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