Rep. Laurie Sanborn: NH House Democrats plan to raise taxes, increase regulations

Democratic House Speaker Norelli’s plans for growing the economy, as stated in her column in the Jan. 5 New Hampshire Sunday News, involve more taxpayer-funded spending, more regulations and costs imposed on New Hampshire employers, higher taxes and unnecessary expansion of government and its intrusion into our daily lives.

Republicans have a different way to grow the New Hampshire economy, encourage job creation and keep youth in our state. And it doesn’t involve you paying more taxes. (more…)

Op-Ed: Sanborn: NH House Democrats plan to raise taxes, increase regulations

By: Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford)
Democratic House Speaker Norelli’s plans for growing the economy, as stated in her column in the Jan. 5 New Hampshire Sunday News, involve more taxpayer-funded spending, more regulations and costs imposed on New Hampshire employers, higher taxes and unnecessary expansion of government and its intrusion into our daily lives.
Republicans have a different way to grow the New Hampshire economy, encourage job creation and keep youth in our state. And it doesn’t involve you paying more taxes.

At the top of Speaker Norelli’s list is expanding Obamacare in our state, and she will impose it on the Legislature again, right away, this Wednesday. You may remember that the option of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was left up to the states by the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly half of the states in the nation have rejected it.

Those that have accepted it have seen their costs skyrocket well beyond projections. An academic study by an MIT economist showed that participants in expanded Medicaid dramatically increase utilization of expensive emergency rooms, while health outcomes don’t improve.
To expand Medicaid under Obamacare now, knowing that cuts to Medicaid reimbursements have already repeatedly been on the table, puts our state in precarious financial position — now and especially in three years when the federal government forces us to pay 10 percent. Since this is estimated at $40 million per year but will undoubtedly be more, the government will need to raise significant additional taxes on New Hampshire residents and businesses. This will not help our economy.
The Speaker also states her goals of increasing the minimum wage and increasing restrictions on the hiring decisions of employers. Raising the minimum wage will have a major and disproportionate impact on small businesses, the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy. This will have the effect of reducing hiring and growth, not increasing it. Since the minimum wage is generally paid to young workers, this will hurt, not help, those who are looking for entry-level jobs the most.
The Speaker also wants to use every penny of the $15 million surplus from last year, instead of shoring up our woefully small state rainy day fund. If our “crystal ball” revenue projections for some reason don’t pan out, or if we have a major catastrophe in our state, how will we pay our bills and take care of people who really need our help?
House Republicans have a different approach. We believe that now is certainly not the time to be raising taxes or expanding Obamacare. Instead, we will focus on making the economy better and health insurance more affordable for all people. We can do this by offering more choices for customers, fewer mandates, and fewer barriers.Many of the people who would be covered with Medicaid under Obamacare are already eligible for heavily subsidized insurance through the federal exchange.

New Hampshire House Republicans will continue our efforts to ensure that everyone has excellent employment opportunities by fostering a vibrant business climate — one that eliminates excessive and unnecessary regulation, encourages responsible business success, makes us more attractive than other states and protects taxpayers by reducing wasteful spending.
We know that when we do this, we grow the economy, can pay for necessary government services and help those most in need without raising taxes.

Op-Ed: Sanborn & Kurk: Expand Medicaid? Only If You Want a State Tax Increase

Many people in New Hampshire believe that low-income New Hampshire adults should have health insurance. Some low-income adults have it now through their employers, but many do not.

Expanding Medicaid under Obamacare is one way to provide health insurance to low income adults, but unless real safeguards are put into place and until we believe we can rely on the federal government, the ultimate result in New Hampshire will be a new tax, perhaps a broad-based income or sales tax — in other words, higher taxes for the middle class, who will be charged with paying for the expansion.

Medicaid is currently a federal-state partnership that pays for health services for poor people in particular categories of need, including children, pregnant women, and the disabled. Under Obamacare, states have the option to expand the program to cover able-bodied, poor adults even if they are not in a listed category of need, with the federal government picking up all of the cost for the first three years, slowly decreasing to 90% of the cost in 2021 and beyond.

Expanding Medicaid under Obamacare would add some 50-60,000 individuals to the program. The state’s 10% cost share in the early 2020s is estimated at around $40-45 million each biennium. This would increase the state’s budget enough to require a new tax. In fact, this would be the largest single expansion of government spending this state has ever seen.  New Hampshire residents don’t want a sales or income tax, and we already have the third highest business taxes in the nation. New Hampshire’s economic growth and its ability to attract and retain employers would be damaged by any such tax.

Unfortunately, these estimated costs – as high as they are – may be too low.  States like Arizona and New Mexico, which recently expanded Medicaid, had program costs significantly higher than estimated. One should not be surprised if the cost estimates for New Hampshire’s program were similarly flawed.

The sad reality is that, once NH expands Medicaid under Obamare, it will be politically impossible to stop it. Why? Because, for example, when costs inevitably rise, expansion supporters will successfully argue that the state cannot deprive 50-60,000 low-income individuals of their health insurance.

There are other, perhaps more significant, issues surrounding the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

Will insuring additional people without increasing the number of doctors and nurses increase waiting times for medical and surgical appointments for those who are already insured?

Are we discouraging people who are currently working part-time or in an entry level job from striving for full-time or a higher paying job, just to stay on tax-payer funded health care?  What effect will this have on our economy?

Why should fiscally-prudent New Hampshire participate in a federal program that increases the annual federal deficit and the national debt (at least $2.4 billion from New Hampshire alone)?

How can we rely upon the federal government not to make cuts to the program and further increase our state’s financial obligations, knowing that both Democrats and Republicans in DC have already said potential cuts need to be implemented now?

Is it fair to those who pay their full premiums, deductibles and co-pays to have fewer choices of hospitals and doctors than those who pay nothing for their health costs under Expanded Medicaid?

Is it fair that eligibility for expanded Medicaid is based on income only and not assets, so that a 50-year old who lives on a yacht and has a very low income qualifies for free health insurance?

Expanding Medicaid under Obamacare is not the New Hampshire way to make health care more affordable or accessible for anyone.

Laurie Sanborn is a State Representative serving Bedford and Amherst, and is the Republican Policy Leader in the NH House. 

Neal M. Kurk is a State Representative serving Deering and Weare, and is a ranking member on the House Finance Committee.

Op-Ed: Abrami: Medicaid Expansion not worth the risk

The N.H. Legislature has an important vote on Medicaid expansion coming up soon. As a state representative, I have one of those votes, which I take very seriously. I have been monitoring the progress of the Medicaid Expansion Commission and presented testimony concerning issues I need addressed. As a thoughtful legislator, I am searching for a reason not to vote “no.”

The real issue to me is, will the Medicaid expansion program place New Hampshire in financial jeopardy in the future? These are some of the thoughts that are going through my mind:

1. The Affordable Care Act was not bipartisan. There were no Republican “yes” votes in the U.S. House or Senate (there were 34 “no” Democrat votes in the House). What I do know is that all great legislation has historically had some bipartisan support. During the 1965 Medicare vote, 50 percent of the Republicans in the House voted “yes,” along with 41 percent of Republican senators. As for the Democrats, “no” votes were cast by 10 percent of senators and 16 percent of House members.

2. Those who voted “no” probably understood that estimates that Medicare would cost $9 billion a year by 1990 were bogus. They were correct. Medicare actually cost $98 billion in 1990.

3. Why is that, you ask? Well, I remember President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Health Education and Welfare Joseph Califano saying, “You can never get enough health, education and welfare.” One of the laws of political physics is that when something is perceived to be free, that something always will be consumed at a faster rate than predicted.

4. In the case of the ACA, the original cost projection over 10 years was $900 billion, half to be funded by tax increases and half by Medicare cuts. Those in the know understood the Congressional Budget Office must score based on the next 10 years. At that time, they factored in 10 years of tax increases, but only six years of expense because the program rolls out in 2014. The 10-year cost projections from 2014-2023 are $2.6 trillion. History repeats itself.

5. The question is, can the country afford the ACA? It would be one thing if the United States were in great fiscal health, but we aren’t. The national debt is $17 trillion. This is money we spent that we have borrowed. The less-reported issue is the $125 trillion unfunded liability for Medicare, Social Security and prescription drug programs. This is money that we have to pay out some day and have no idea where it will come from. Don’t forget the continued quantitative easing program by the Fed at a rate of $85 billion a month that continues onward.

6. There are 25 states that have chosen not to join the Medicaid expansion program, primarily because they do not trust the promises made by the U.S. government to pay 100 percent and then 90 percent of the costs (after three years). If the federal government reneges on its promise to pay and New Hampshire is forced to pick up the tab, it will be politically impossible to vote this type of program out. How will we pay for this? An income tax?

7. I had a chat recently with a ranking executive of the American Hospital Association. It endorsed the ACA only two days before the vote because it had major concerns. Now it is bemoaning all the cuts facing its institutions. I simply said, didn’t you know “affordable” meant “cuts?” Look at the Cleveland Clinic, which President Barack Obama touted as an example of a low-cost model of health care delivery (it actually is, from my experience), which just announced $300 million in operating costs would need to be trimmed because of the ACA. So, the Cleveland Clinic, which actually cares for patients, needs to cut, while the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies are adding thousands of jobs to administer the ACA. There is something wrong with this.

8. We see the AFL-CIO is upset with what the ACA will mean to its members; giant United Parcel Service announces 15,000 spouses of workers who can obtain insurance elsewhere will be forced off their current plan; Walgreens is forcing its 160,000 employees onto the exchanges; SeaWorld is moving its part-time workers from 32 hours to 28 hours; the Manhattan Institute says that of the 14 states that have reported thus far, there has been a 24 percent increase in health care premiums; and so many thousand more examples of companies changing behavior in ways that were not anticipated. The ACA is resulting in higher health insurance costs, people being forced off their current insurance carrier, and people being forced to change doctors and hospitals, all things President Obama said would not occur.

9. Then there is New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange with one insurer Anthem (which is sad in its own right) dictating those covered by the exchange cannot go to 10 of our 26 hospitals. That speaks for itself.

All of these above points make me nervous that the ACA is, indeed, a train wreck, to quote Sen. Max Baucus. Yes, we have a very inefficient health care system (I have been saying this for years) caused primarily by incentives that work counter to quality care at an appropriate cost. Unless the Medicaid Expansion Commission can prove with near 100 percent certainty that New Hampshire will not be placed in financial jeopardy in the future, I will be a “no” vote. In my humble opinion, this bureaucratic nightmare, with its nearly 20,000 pages of regulations and the IRS as traffic cop, is not the answer we needed. I am willing to work with my Democrat friends to fix our health care problems. But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, New Hampshire does not have to be a party to the financing of what appears to be an ill-conceived program. If we vote down the ACA, New Hampshire citizens with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level can still go to the exchange and get a policy. Go to the Kaiser Foundation Web site, www.kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator, and see the significant federal subsidies they will receive, which I pointed out to the Medicaid Expansion Commission. Federal money is still our money, but as a state representative, if I vote “no,” I will at least be minimizing the financial risk to New Hampshire.

Op-Ed: Democrats’ fibs, lies and whoppers on their state budget fiasco

Recently, one of the Democrats’ talking points has been circulating in which they attempt to rewrite fiscal and legislative history by saying their two terms in control of the New Hampshire Legislature did not cause a huge deficit.

Although fanciful rhetoric from Democrats is nothing new, and out of necessity, fibs and lies are their rhetoric of choice, even by their standards, this one is quite the whopper. If this story wasn’t being spread by New Hampshire Democrats, it would be surprising that anyone would attempt to propagate an alternate reality of such patently false claims. (more…)

Op-Ed: No help from Democrats on redistricting

By Rep. Spec Bowers / For the Monitor
January 5, 2012

Re “House redistricting plan is unconstitutional” (Sunday Monitor Viewpoints, Jan. 1):

It is sad that Rep. Terie Norelli is more interested in complaining about a problem than in helping solve the problem.

She admits that the House redistricting puzzle is “difficult to piece together,” but her team contributed nothing to the process. As one of the volunteers on the project I would have welcomed assistance from our Democratic colleagues; the process really is a mathematical problem much more than a partisan problem. It has been compared to solving a Rubik’s cube, a Sudoku puzzle or a jigsaw puzzle.

Despite the difficulties of complying strictly with the federal “one man, one vote” rule and as much as possible with the New Hampshire 2006 constitutional amendment, we produced a plan that has almost twice as many districts as the current (2002) districting. We have tripled, from 28 to 85, the number of single-town districts.

Norelli provides no details about her preferred plan. That’s not surprising because she likely would be laughed out of town if she tried to describe that plan. Under her “weighted voting” scheme, we would take the votes from one town and multiply them by 0.325 and the votes from some other town and multiply them by 0.273 then add up the votes to determine who the winner is. The end result could be that the candidate with a higher raw vote total loses to the person with a lower vote total. (more…)