EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 29, 2014

Letter: Republicans play politics with the health of the poor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

Last Nov. 21, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate infamously voted 13-11 to opt out of the federally funded Medicaid expansion plan, and in so doing refused $2.4 billion over the next seven years that would have benefited our 50,000 adults under age 65 who only earn up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The vote was along party lines, with all 11 Democrats approving the expansion, as did the Democratic-controlled House earlier.

A disappointed Gov. Maggie Hassan had this to say after the vote: “We offered Senate Republican leadership nearly everything they asked for; all we wanted was a plan that would actually work from day one and for the long term. But Senate Republicans refused to budge, putting ideology first and the people of New Hampshire second. Because Senate Republicans have blocked health care expansion, beginning Jan. 1, thousands will continue to go without the health coverage they need, and the state of New Hampshire will be losing at least half-a-million dollars per day that we can never recover. That is unacceptable.”

This was just another in the endless Republican Party rejections of all-things Obamacare, as New Hampshire joined over 20 other states, most sporting GOP governors, in selling out millions of families who need the assistance to make their partisan ideological point against President Barack Obama and his groundbreaking program. And once again, as is generally the case with the right wing, the people who need the assistance the most get left out in the cold.

Flash forward to a couple weeks ago (Jan. 8) as the Democratic-run House, by a 182-154 margin, passed another comprehensive Medicaid bill similar to last year’s. It rests currently with the Senate, and the rumblings from the capital says that once again it will be defeated by Salem’s own Chuck Morse and his GOP majority. Never mind that the augmentation would be 100-percent funded by federal money until 2020, when New Hampshire would begin to foot 10 percent of the amount.

Hassan expressed some optimism after the House vote: “I will continue working with both the House and Senate toward a constructive compromise on health care expansion that will work from day one and for the long term in order to boost our economy, strengthen our health care system, and improve the health and financial well-being of New Hampshire’s working families.”

Hassan has been fighting the good fight with this legislation, as she has been all along with the ongoing casino imbroglio. Hassan is being hamstrung, much like former Gov. John Lynch was during his final term, by a state GOP that mirrors the Washington version despite our voters eradicating many of the tea party Republicans who ruled Concord from January 2011 to January 2013.

Obviously more work has to be done by astute voters in November, as the last thing our conservative New Hampshire pols want this year is for our Democratic governor and our state to have success with this important legislation. And they are apparently willing to sacrifice the health of thousands of our poor residents on their ideological altar to ensure that we don’t.

William F. Klessens