EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 2, 2012

Lamontagne, Hassan debate health care issues

CONCORD — Though similar parental and professional experiences guide their views, the candidates for New Hampshire governor take very different approaches when it comes to health care policy.

Democrat Maggie Hassan has an adult son with severe disabilities and has served as legal counsel for several hospitals. Republican Ovide Lamontagne has an adult foster son with special needs and also has represented numerous hospitals as a business lawyer. Both cited those backgrounds yesterday during an hourlong debate hosted by the New Hampshire Hospital Association, the New Hampshire Health Policy Council and New Hampshire Public Radio.

"I know this sector better than anyone who's run for governor, probably ever," said Lamontagne, who has previously run unsuccessfully for Congress, U.S. Senate and governor.

Hassan, a former state senator, added her legislative experience in arguing that she is the most qualified to tackle health care issues, citing her efforts to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against companies with sick workers and expanding coverage for young adults.

"I come at this as a mom, as a lawyer, and then six years in the state Senate," she said.

Hassan said she favors accepting more than $1 billion in federal money through the Obama administration's health care overhaul law to expand Medicaid to low-income adults.

"It's hard for me to understand how anybody thinks somebody earning $15,000 or less does not have difficulty finding private health insurance they can afford," she said. "The other thing is, if we don't accept it, other federal money is going away, and we aren't going to be able to afford the kind of care that we need if we turn away billons of dollars of federal money."

Lamontagne, who opposes the federal law, said he would work with health care providers and insurers to craft a "New Hampshire solution," built around boosting competition in the insurance market and giving consumers more choice.

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