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N.H. Lawmakers Weigh Bill Allowing For State-Based Health Exchange


New Hampshire lawmakers are considering legislation that would lift a ban on a state-based health care exchange.

A law passed last year by the Republican-led Legislature bars New Hampshire from implementing its own state-based health care exchange.

Representative Edward Butler of Harts Location is the prime sponsor of a bill to lift that ban.

At a House committee hearing on the bill Tuesday, Butler says it does not advocate for a state-based exchange.

“It just says the people responsible for enforcing insurance regulation and for those of us discussing policy, it is possible for us to have that discussion. At this point, the prohibition does not allow it.”

Governor Maggie Hassan earlier this month announced plans to move forward with a partnership exchange, one of three options under the Affordable Care Act. The health care exchanges go into effect next year.

States can later change to one of the different options, but because of the prohibition, a state-based exchange isn’t available to New Hampshire.

Some committee members raised concerns about the cost of a state-based exchange. One lawmaker estimated it would cost $10 to $20 million a year to operate.

Jennifer Patterson of the New Hampshire Insurance Department says any exchange program has to be self-sustaining by 2015.