The importance of an Obamacare Plan B
No issue polarized voters last November like the debate over health care policy and President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) – known to some as “ObamaCare.”
I campaigned hard against this unprecedented federal takeover last fall and believe it was one of the worst decisions ever made in Washington. As enacted, the legislation represents a massive overreach by the federal government and promises to bog down the health care industry with cumbersome overregulation and saddle our economy with even more entitlement spending debt.
Since being elected to the state Senate, I have supported legislation that would exempt New Hampshire residents from the mandates of ObamaCare. I have joined my colleagues in calling on our attorney general to join 26 other states in the lawsuit challenging the bill’s constitutionality.
However, while I and others across the county and in Washington continue to work towards the repeal of this federal legislation, as an elected official here in New Hampshire, I believe it is my responsibility to ensure our state is on the right track should those repeal efforts fail. New Hampshire must have an ObamaCare Plan B – prudence demands this approach.
To protect New Hampshire’s interests and sovereignty, I sponsored a bill that would provide strict legislative oversight of any policies related to the federal health care reform act. Further, to create this viable second path, I believe we should take advantage of available federal planning grant funds – provided absolutely no strings are attached – to meet the requirements of ObamaCare in the event repeal attempts prove unsuccessful. This is precisely why I’ve advocated accepting a $666,000 federal grant to study the establishment of a health insurance exchange here in the Granite State.
After much debate, the Executive Council recently joined the overwhelming majority of our Legislative Fiscal Committee in approving the acceptance of these funds. I applaud that decision.
Contrary to some of the misinformation presented about this grant, acceptance will not bind the state’s hands nor force us to comply with other provisions of the ACA down the road. Actually it’s quite the opposite – accepting this funding will allow the state to study and potentially develop a uniquely New Hampshire approach to our own health insurance exchange. Refusing the monies, on the other hand, could lead to a federally-designed and decidedly bureaucratic system being imposed on the state with no recourse if repeal efforts fail.
Moreover, insurance exchanges themselves do not represent a move towards socialized medicine, as some have claimed. It’s just the opposite. Exchanges can ensure a free market for health insurance and can drive down prices in that market through competition – but only if they’re well designed. Exchanges act as a clearinghouse, providing customers with information on the costs and benefits associated with different plans and allowing consumers to choose the option that is right for them.
In accepting these funds, New Hampshire will join 47 other states in taking advantage of these dollars to craft insurance exchanges unique to their individual markets and needs – without federal bureaucrats calling the shots. Most of the 26 states that are part of the anti-ACA federal lawsuit have accepted the planning grant money. It is smart for New Hampshire to do the same to minimize federal intrusion in our healthcare system.
During the national debate over health care, many conservatives argued that the President’s legislation did little to nothing to address the underlying costs of health care – it simply proposed to switch who paid and who was in charge. I couldn’t agree more.
A well-run health insurance exchange, however, could produce downward pressure on costs by providing consumers the information they need to make educated decisions in a complicated marketplace.
I believe exchanges are the sort of bipartisan and free market solutions that folks were calling for during last year’s debate. Accepting this planning grant allows the State of New Hampshire to examine if one could work here and also provides an important backup plan should efforts to overturn the ACA in the courts or repeal it in Congress come up short. For these reasons I believe this grant is a win-win.
Ray White is a State Senator from District 9, which includes the towns of Bedford, Greenfield, Lyndeborough, Merrimack, Mont Vernon and New Boston. He has 23 years of experience in the insurance and financial industry. A Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant, he founded Cornerstone Benefit and Retirement Group, Inc. in 1993. Find out more about Ray at www.raywhiteforsenate.com