Mar 14, 2017 2:05 PM

Sununu says he's not 'signing on' to the GOP health care bill in Congress


CONCORD – For the second straight week, Gov. Chris Sununu said he has serious reservations about the plan by his fellow Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the federal health care law.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, New Hampshire’s first GOP governor in a dozen years said the U.S. House GOP leadership’s plan is “definitely not a bill I’m signing on to.”

Sununu added that he’s got concerns “on a lot of different levels” about the American Health Care Act, which was unveiled early last week.

Monday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that the measure would increase by 24 million the number of people without health insurance over the next ten years. But they also estimated that if the bill becomes law, it would slice $337 billion off the federal budget deficit.

Last week Sununu said he’s a big supporter of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The law was the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House.

Asked last Wednesday by NH1 News of his initial reaction to the plan, the governor answered that “we have some concerns. There’s no doubt about it.”

Asked what those concerns were, Sununu said “we need to make sure that the state has flexibility in what we’re going to do, the state has some say in making sure we can design a system that meets the needs of our citizens. There are parts of this bill that don’t necessarily incorporate that.”

Sununu repeated those comments on Tuesday, saying he work with Congress to come up with a plan that allows the Granite State to be “flexible.”

Among other things, the bill would cut back funding for states to pay for the current law’s Medicaid expansion program, shifting from open-ended federal matching payments to per capita lump sum payments for states to use to pay for insurance for low income individuals and families. More than 50,000 Granite Staters currently obtain their health insurance through the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

The state expanded Medicaid under Sununu’s Democratic predecessor, now U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.

New Hampshire’s all-Democratic, all-female, delegation has criticized the House Republican plan, pointing out that much of the federal funding of the state’s efforts to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic come from Medicaid Expansion.

READ: Shaheen/Hassan slam GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare

Sununu said last week that “we’ve made it very clear that whatever comes out of Congress has to make sure that the needs of the state, specifically in how it deals with the opioid epidemic, are taken very seriously.”

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