HEALTHCARE

ACA Protections R...

The House of Representatives voted 207-140 to pass HB 233, reinforcing provisions of the Affordable Care Act in state law.

“The vote on HB 233 is an important protection for the healthcare of Granite Staters and enhances the stabilization of the New Hampshire insurance market amidst any changes at the federal level. This bill provides NH citizens with security in knowing that essential health benefits, including guaranteed issue and coverage no matter the pre-existing condition, geographic rating protections and premium differential protections for age, and other parameters of the Affordable Care Act are safeguarded," according to Representative Edward Butler, (D-Harts Location)

“The ACA is under constant attack by Republican legislators in Washington. Today’s vote to reinforce essential health benefits in state law will ensure the protection of the vital and indispensable healthcare coverage that so many of our citizens rely on.”

HEALTHCARE

Paid Family and M...

The House of Representatives voted 219-142 to support Senate Bill 1, which establishes a family and medical leave insurance program.

“Passing Senate Bill 1 is a critical step towards Granite Staters having access to affordable paid family and medical leave insurance. No one should have to choose between financial security and caring for a loved one. This is a vote for the future of our state that will help us care for an aging population, combat the opioid epidemic, and attract and retain the workforce of tomorrow. When crafting our bipartisan paid leave proposals, House and Senate Democrats paid particular attention to the concerns raised by Governor Sununu in the last biennium,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord), chair of the House Finance Committee

Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) added: “Senate Bill 1, like House Bill 712, is a well-constructed, sustainable plan to provide affordable access to paid family and medical leave insurance. Today’s vote moves us closer to helping NH families retain financial security when they need time out from work to care for themselves or their families. Unfortunately, Governor Sununu has threatened to veto this bill despite the support of 82% of Granite Staters for a program like the one we passed today, even though he’s heard loud and clear from insurance companies that his idea simply won’t work. It’s time that we move forward with real, actionable policy and work to provide paid family and medical leave insurance to all Granite Staters.”

For background:

Governor Sununu has voiced opposition to bills modeled after successful family and medical leave insurance programs, instead suggesting an untested voluntary concept. This week the responses from Governor Sununu’s Request for Information were publicly released by the Governor of Vermont. An analysis of the responses submitted shows that insurance companies have several concerns about the Governor’s “Twin State Voluntary Paid Leave Program”.

The leading concern from companies about a voluntary market is the ability to price the insurance appropriately.

Small businesses and their employees are the least likely to have access to paid family and medical leave, yet the multi-tiered rate structure could penalize by creating different risk pools that would likely be more expensive.

None of the companies responding to the RFI were able to provide pricing information for employees in the private sector because of the uncertainty surrounding the composition of the insurance pool.

In all cases where specific cost estimates were included, those costs exceed the premium costs of the program proposed by New Hampshire legislators in SB1 and HB712.
Anthem’s reply also reveals as false the Governors’ claims that the insurance provider would bear the entire risk of the program: Anthem would charge between 3% and 6% in additional contingency and risk margin fees to administer the funds.

HEALTHCARE

Family And Medica...

The NH House voted overwhelmingly that family and medical leave insurance is critical to New Hampshire’s efforts to address some of our most significant challenges: growing and maintaining our workforce, caring for our seniors and an aging population, and supporting recovery from the opioid public health epidemic.

A significant majority of working Granite Staters lack access to paid family and medical leave. High workforce participation leaves few caregivers at home so when needs arise, such as the birth of a child or serious illness like cancer strikes, families lose the income they depend on to make ends meet. Family and medical leave insurance is a bridge providing partial wage replacement to keep aging workers in the workforce longer, decrease dependence on food stamps and other government assistance following childbirth, and increase the odds of success for working people recovering from substance abuse. We also heard clearly from young people who testified that this policy will help attract and retain younger workers and their families to our state. Additionally, this bill is good for businesses and the broader economy.

The establishment of a family and medical leave insurance program especially helps small employers, the backbone of the New Hampshire economy, who are often currently unable to offer this benefit to their employees. States who have adopted family and medical leave insurance programs have benefited from greater worker retention, reduced turnover and greater worker productivity.

This bill is tailored to address many of our challenges and does so in a manner consistent with our Granite State values and ethos. The program piggybacks off the existing unemployment system and is designed to minimize administrative duties for businesses. Employers could opt out of the program if they provide an equivalent or better benefit. Participating employers would remit insurance premium payments equal to 0.5% of wages (an average of $5 per week) into the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund and be authorized to either pay those premiums themselves as a benefit to employees or to withdraw all or part of the insurance payment as a payroll deduction. The insurance program would provide temporary, partial wage replacement
(60% of wages) to eligible individuals for up to 12 weeks of leave annually to care for themselves or a family member. Medical certification demonstrating need would be required to qualify for benefits.

The insurance program benefits and administration are funded through premium payments. This legislation gives the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council fiduciary responsibilities to monitor the finances of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund and the Commissioner of the Department of Employment Security the ability to adjust premiums or benefits up or down by 10% to ensure solvency of the fund. The proposed premium amount was set based on a New Hampshire specific actuarial analysis completed by UNH Carsey School with support from the U.S. Department of Labor. An overwhelming majority of Granite Staters support the establishment of a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, along with a majority of the House.

HEALTHCARE

Medicaid Expansio...

Reauthorization of Medicaid Expansion has been the top priority of House Democrats this term and the reasons are simple. This program utilizes federal funds to provide health care to over 53,000 low-income Granite Staters who cannot otherwise afford it, it reduces the uncompensated care costs that drive up the cost of health care for all, and most importantly, Medicaid Expansion is New Hampshire’s number one tool to combat the opioid epidemic

“The deliberation and bipartisan collaboration that produced this bill exemplifies the way government should work. I thank the legislature for coming together to overwhelmingly support continuing a program that benefits New Hampshire in so many ways," House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said.

HEALTHCARE

House Gives Final...

The House of Representatives voted 171-162 to give final House approval to HB 628, legislation which establishes a paid family and medical leave program in New Hampshire. The bipartisan legislation has now passed the House three times in 2018, following reviews by committees on Labor, Commerce, and Finance. The bill will now head to the Senate for further review.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said, “passing this bill is the most important thing the House will do this term to benefit the young families of New Hampshire. House Democrats understand how beneficial a sustainable family leave program will be to the retention of young, skilled workers – the very people New Hampshire needs to grow our state’s economy.”

“The private leave program endorsed by Republicans on House Finance would have placed onerous mandates on employers and provided few, if any, viable options for employees to purchase coverage. House Democrats joined the business community in strongly opposing the unworkable Finance Republican proposal. I thank our caucus as well as the 19 House Republicans who rejected the Finance Republican proposal, paving the way for passage of the bipartisan leave program which cleared the House today.”

Representative Mary Stuart Gile (D-Concord) and prime sponsor of the bill said, “the New Hampshire Family and Medical Leave Program will provide a unique and sustainable benefit to support working families with income replacement in times of family and medical need. This program will help attract a younger workforce with the skills and talent to move our state’s economy in a positive direction. I look forward to working with the Senate to advance this proactive legislation to the Governor’s desk.”