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News from everywhere *but* Central New Hampshire.

Only Two North Country Reps Opposed Medicaid Continuation

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A mix of 12 Republicans and Democrats from the North Country agreed on the need to pass a bill that would continue Medicaid for the next two years.

That reflected the tone at the House on Wednesday, where HB 1696 passed 216 - 145, NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reported.

“The issue crossed party lines with the Republicans who supported the bill, stressing to their colleagues on the right that this bill does not use state dollars but rather saves it. As the bill is written, the state's insurance premium tax as well as hospitals and insurance companies have agreed to pick up the tab the federal government will no longer be paying in 2017.

“Forty-eight thousand fellow citizens will lose their health care and New Hampshire will not benefit from the inflow of 850 million federal dollars – I don’t see any reward in this scenario,” said Rep. Stephen Schmidt, a Republican from Wolfeboro. Many who spoke in favor of the bill also pointed to the $140 million the program has saved on treatment for those without health insurance," Sutherland wrote.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Two North Country representatives who opposed the bill are Larry Rappaport, a Republican from Colebrook, and Leon Rideout, a Republican from Lancaster.

“The agreement is suppose to last two years and proponents have said if funding ever falls short the program will end,” Rideout wrote an email. “That promise is as false now as it was two years ago when the taxpayers were told the program would end when federal funding fell below 100% ." He said New Hampshire taxpayers will responsible.

He also questioned the work requirements, describing those as empty promises because there is “a sever ability clause which means Washington can and will strip those provisions from the bill.” 

Even with federal funds being used, he said, the money “will be borrowed and continues mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.”

Rappaport could not immediately be reached for comment but on March 15 responded in an email:

1.  I don’t believe the government is authorized to do this in the Constitution.

2.  I don’t believe the government intends for this to end; I think they want to treat this as an ongoing right.

3.  I don’t believe I am my brother’s keeper.

Of the remaining 12 North Country representatives voting for the bill eight are Democrats and four are Republicans. Republican Brad Bailey of Monroe was excused from voting.

Here are the representatives who voted in favor:

* Rebecca Brown, Democrat, of Sugar Hill

* John Fothergill, Republican, of Colebrook

* Alethea Froburg, Democrat, of Berlin

* William Hatch, Democrat, of Gorham

* Wayne Moynihan, Democrat, of Dummer

* Herb Richardson, Republican of Lancaster

* Robert Theberge, Democrat, of Berlin

* John Tholl, Republican, of Whitefield

* Yvonne Thomas, Democrat, of Berlin

* Linda Massimilla, Democrat of Littleton

* Erin Hennessey, Republican of Littleton

* Susan Ford, Democrat of Easton

For a primer on the issue go here.

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