CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — After months of arguing, New Hampshire lawmakers overseeing implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have agreed on one thing Tuesday: They’re at a stalemate.
The joint Health Care Oversight Committee includes three Republicans and three Democrats.
The members have spent a significant amount of time disagreeing about the authority accorded to various players involved in implementing PPACA, including the insurance department, the governor and the committee itself.
Tuesday’s meeting started with the insurance department outlining the state’s role in educating businesses and consumers about the law, then opened up into a wider discussion that included whether the state should have any role at all.
In the end, members acknowledged that, even if they agreed, they couldn’t take any action until the rest of the Legislature sorts out two bills related to PPACA — one would let the insurance department accept a $5 million federal grant to start a consumer assistance program, the other would align the state’s insurance market rules with the federal law.
“Basically we’re at a stalemate,” said Sen. Peggy Gilmore, D-Hollis.
Under PPACA, new insurance marketplaces will offer individuals and their families a choice of private health plans resembling what workers at major companies already get. The government will help many middle-class households pay their premiums, while low-income people will be referred to safety net programs they might qualify for. Enrollment starts Oct. 1 with coverage taking effect Jan. 1. After that, virtually everyone in the country will be required by law to have health insurance or face fines.
While the last Legislature passed a law prohibiting the state from setting up its own markets, or exchanges, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan decided in February to have the state partner with the federal government to manage the health plans offered through the markets and to provide consumer assistance.