Maggie Hassan

Health Care Expansion Bill (SB 413) Signing Remarks - March 27, 2014

Maggie Hassan
March 27, 2014— Concord, New Hampshire
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Thank you, Speaker Norelli, for your kind words and leadership.

Thank you as well to Senator Larsen, Senate President Morse, Senators Bradley, Gilmour, Stiles, D’Allesandro, Odell and the strong bipartisan coalition in the Senate who never stopped working.

Thank you to Representatives Rosenwald and Sherman and their House colleagues. I want to also recognize Rep. Bob Elliott of Salem, who said that this isn’t about Democrats and it isn’t about Republicans, but about helping people.

Thank you to Commissioner Toumpas, Commissioner Sevigny and your teams at DHHS and DOI for your help in developing this plan and for the work you will be doing to implement it.

I want to thank Jim Varnum and members of the bipartisan commission that worked all summer and laid the ground work for this bipartisan compromise.

Thank you of the health care advocates, business leaders, doctors, nurses, hospital officials for your efforts.

And most importantly, thank you to those uninsured Granite Staters who testified, shared their stories, and will finally be able to access coverage.

You, and nearly 50,000 more like you, are why we are here. Today, we are signing into law the most significant piece of health care legislation that the State of New Hampshire has seen in decades.

Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a historic step forward for the health of our people and the future of New Hampshire's economy.

It is a fiscally responsible, uniquely New Hampshire solution that will inject $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy and improve the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities.

This bipartisan, common-sense solution allows us to help improve the quality of life for 50,000 people and their families - hard-working men and women who deserve the security of health insurance.

And just as importantly, helping them access this critical security reinforces the basic principle that in NH everyone counts.

We are talking about our healthcare workers, restaurant employees, construction workers, retail clerks.

People who work in our schools and local grocery stores. People who struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table while earning less than $16,000 a year.

They count, and now they won’t have to face the impossible choice of paying for care or paying for rent, of purchasing a prescription or feeding their families.

By helping more people access health insurance, we will also help reduce levels of uncompensated care that shift costs onto all of our people and businesses.

We will encourage primary and preventive care that, over the long-term, can help bend the curve of rising health care costs.

And we will provide desperately needed coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment to thousands - all while promoting private insurance coverage.

Our bipartisan plan first helps uninsured workers purchase coverage through their employers, when that option is available.

Other qualified workers whose employers don’t provide insurance will be able to access coverage through a private managed care company.

And by 2016, we will help individuals purchase private coverage through the state’s health insurance marketplace.

This will support our efforts to bring competition to our health insurance marketplace that will improve affordability and increase choices for all New Hampshire citizens.

Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is funded by federal Medicaid dollars made available through the Affordable Care Act - and it’s estimated that expansion will help create hundreds of jobs and save state dollars.

The plan includes benchmarks and aggressive timelines that will require continued, bipartisan collaboration throughout the federal-waiver and implementation process.

But we have shown that we are more than capable of working together to keep moving forward.

Our compromise health care expansion plan again demonstrates that, in New Hampshire, we can work through our challenges together, across party lines, to solve problems on behalf of our people and our economy.

That when we all remain focused on our common purpose and common vision, we can reach the solutions that the people of New Hampshire need.

Our goal was to expand coverage for middle class families in a way that worked, and compromise was the tool that helped get results.

Building this consensus included healthy debate and, at times, argument. But what matters is what we do after we argue.

In the case of health care expansion, we went to work, put ideology aside, and developed a bipartisan plan that will strengthen our families, businesses and economy.

Again, I want to thank everyone who worked together to make today a reality.

I look forward to working with you all to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for the State of New Hampshire.

So with that, let’s sign health care expansion into law.

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