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Feb 28, 2017 3:07 PM

Sununu tells NH1 News action on health care will happen 'in fairly short order'


CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu calls President Donald Trump a man of action and predicts that when it comes to the push by the President and the Republicans who control Congress to repeal and replace the national health care law, “whatever happens will happen in fairly short order.”

And in an interview with NH1 News, Sununu said when it comes to block grants to the states to administer the Medicaid program, his message to the President was “let’s waive the waivers.”

New Hampshire’s first GOP governor in a dozen years spoke with NH1 News on Tuesday, hours before Trump was scheduled to address a joint session of Congress and outline his federal budget blueprint and health care proposals.

Sununu and 45 of his fellow governors met with Trump Monday at the White House, capping the four-day National Governors Association 2017 winter meetings.

Sununu said that how to replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, “was definitely the topic of the weekend. We had many different discussions with the other governors across the country, as well as with the Vice President, and with the President himself.”

Sununu said that Trump “was clearly a president of action,” adding “that gave a lot of us confidence that whatever happens will happen in fairly short order, so we don’t leave the American people, especially the people of New Hampshire, out wondering what is going to happen.”

And he predicted that “in short order I think you’ll see some details fall out with his plan to Congress about the next steps in terms of where we go.”

Sununu told NH1 News that the President peppered the governors with questions, “asking us not just what you think, but how will this work in your state? What are the details? What are the financial aspects that we’ll have to consider. How is this going to affect the insurance markets?”

Sununu’s message to Trump: ‘Waive the waivers’ on block grants

Medicaid expansion was major topic of discussion among governors. More than 50,000 low-income Granite Staters are insured under the program, formally known as the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

Sununu said that those getting their health insurance through the program will still need to be covered in some way, and that he and the other governors discussed options for paying for the program if Obamacare disappears. One option are federal block grants to the states.

“Block grants are great and I’m a very strong believer in that. But then you have to look at with block grants what mandate comes with it. What exceptions come with it? Are we still going to have a system where we still have to apply for waivers?” Sununu explained.

And he said that “my message to the President was let’s waive the waivers. Let’s get rid of the waivers system so we don’t have to fill out a 1,000 page applications to get rid of mundane rules that don’t apply to us in the first place. Just give us the dollars and let us manage to the best of our ability. Now how we calculate how many dollars come to the state, that’s really the crux of it.”

Responding to Sununu’s comments, New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley said "Governor Sununu is blindly supporting a Trump health care plan that he hasn't read because it doesn't exist. Rather than taking cues from President Trump, Governor Sununu should act to protect Medicaid expansion, which provides over 50,000 Granite Staters with quality, affordable health insurance coverage, including coverage for substance abuse treatment."

Sununu says Trump; ‘understands the (drug) crisis here’

Trump always brought up the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic when he campaign in New Hampshire during the marathon 2016 presidential cycle. Asked if the President discussed the issue at Monday’s meeting, Sununu answered that “it was the President that brought it up first. In his opening statement, he brought it up.”

“He understands the crisis here. He’s spent a lot of time right here in New Hampshire. He understands the issue and he knows that it’s first and foremost on our minds as a priority,” the governor added.

And Sununu said that “all the New England governors had a private meeting where this was a hot topic, everything from enforcement, what are we doing in terms of working across the line, best practices in other states.”

The governor said that “over the course of this week I’ll be sitting down with all the commissioners here in New Hampshire, going over some of the things that we discussed.”

READ: Sununu tells NH1 News he'll exceed goal of courting 100 out-of-state companies in his first 100 days

READ: Sununu tells NH1 News state's number two ranking 'helps immensely'

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