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Mar 8, 2017 4:27 PM

Sununu says 'we have some concerns' over U.S. House Republicans Obamacare repeal and replace plan


CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu says he’s a big supporter of repealing and replacing the current federal health care law.

But when it comes to the U.S. House GOP leadership plan to do just that, New Hampshire’s first Republican governor in a dozen years says “we have some concerns, without a doubt.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan Wednesday defended the plan, which was introduced earlier this week, as the only alternative to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The past two days Ryan and the House leadership have faced fierce opposition to their measure from conservative lawmakers, as well as Democrats. The White House says it’s preparing to pitch the plan directly to the public, to circumvent the critics of the proposal.

Asked by NH1 News on Wednesday about his initial reactions to the plan, Sununu said “we’ve only had about 24 hours to review it, we have some concerns. There’s no doubt about it.”

“We really need to look at what are the long term implications, what are the short term implications. How does it affect our demographics, our constituencies. There’s a lot there to really dig into. We have great folks at Health and Human Services and the Insurance Department to really help gather and understand what the overall implications are, but we have some concerns,” Sununu added.

Asked what those concerns were, the governor 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.”

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.

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.

Sununu said 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.”

But Sununu said this plan is from the final product that will emerge from Washington, and added that “we have to keep fighting and making sure that whatever the final bill that comes out of Congress allows us some flexibility and is addressing our priorities, opioids being one of them.”

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