Other Bills of Interest
SPONSORS: Rep. Bettencourt, Rock 4; Sen. Morse, Dist 22
COMMITTEE: Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification
This bill establishes the interstate Health Care Compact which provides that each member state shall have the authority to enact state laws that supersede any and all federal laws regarding health care within its state.
House leader sends his health care compact bill to study
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A bill to create an interstate health care compact, which received overwhelming support among GOP House members, was voted to be placed into study committee Tuesday.
And the bill's prime sponsor, who also happens to be the House Majority Leader, requested the move.
DJ Bettencourt introduced an amendment to HB 1560 to place the bill into study, which passed in a 12-2 vote during a quorum of the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee during its executive session on the bill.
But the two conservative supporters of the bill, Reps. Andy Manuse, R-Derry, and Donna Mauro, R-Windham, weren't buying that a study committee wouldn't lead to eventual death.
"Frankly, a study committee is a very polite way to kill this bill," said Rep. Andy Manuse, R-Derry.
The bill would allow New Hampshire to join with other states to essentially supersede federal health care laws and take over the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Opponents have warned the move would end Medicare and Medicaid, questioning that the state could take on management of those programs without federal assistance. Testimony in committee was largely against the bill; it was called "skeletal" because of its seeming lack of a game plan for implementing an alternate health policy.
But it already received a preliminary but very veto-proof vote in the full House before being sent to the Commerce Committee, where supporters stressed the bill was almost harmless as it would do nothing immediately.
It would first need congressional and legislative approval before any aspect of the bill could move forward, something Manuse argued makes the amendment "duplicitous" and unnecessary.
"If we pass this bill it'll essentially be a study committee anyways," he said. "No action will be taken until congress says OK. And even if they do, that still requires this legislature to make any change."
Rep. Jennifer Coffey, R-Andover, encouraged additional discussion on points raised during testimony, saying, "I think it's wise to look at those questions, as requested by the prime sponsor. Maybe from this, we'll find some solutions to help people have access to better insurance, or more affordable products, or anything that'll make it better for the user."
Manuse did note the language of the bill, which was written by another state, can't be changed because of the mirror image rule in contract law stating the terms have to be the same as what both sides agreed to.
"There's nothing a study committee can do," he said. "This would allow us to create any manner of health care law that differed from federal law, with permission from congress to do so. We can't do that without this bill. We can't change this wording."
Rep. Chris Nevins, R-Hampton, said a study committee is the "best compromise" for those who want to keep the bill alive and those who want the chance to truly discuss it.
Chairman John Hunt reminded those in attendance they'll have "another bite at the apple" in the Senate next session if the bill as amended passes the House.
AN ACT establishing an income and identity verification system for public assistance recipients; relative to the department of health and human services payment of residential care services; and relative to implementation of the Sean William Corey pilot program.
SPONSORS: Rep. Kurk, Hills 7
I. Establishes an income and identity verification system for public assistance recipients.
II. Makes funds available to the department of health and human services for payment of certain residential care providers.
III. Directs the department of health and human services to implement the Sean William Corey pilot program, a previously enacted program to provide home health aide services for medically fragile children.
Report on welfare fraud in NH gets hard look
Speaker O’Brien sees big problem; Family Services director not so sure.
By GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau
CONCORD — State Health and Human Services officials said Friday that they do many of the same database searches as a company reporting that the state Medicaid and Food Stamp program is vulnerable to fraud.
House Speaker William O’Brien of Mont Vernon said Thursday that the results of the cross checking by Lexis-Nexis were eye opening and could save state taxpayers millions of dollars.
O’Brien is proposing legislation requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to do similar searches for welfare fraud.
But Terry Smith, director of the Division of Family Services, said his agency does third party verification of client information for Medicaid, food stamps and other program including field visits to landlords, federal and New Hampshire and Social Security databases.
The data Lexis-Nexis found that might suggest fraud are not necessarily actual fraud, Smith said. “We have asked them if they have statistics on the validity of their findings and they said ‘No,’” he said.
The agency also asked for the sample cases the company ran so they could be checked by the department and again the company said no, Smith said. “We are stuck. We can’t see if it would be a fiscally prudent purchase.”
He said O’Brien’s bill “is an exciting opportunity to have a brand new way of checking national data bases and our hope is it is cost effective for us.”
The study checked the records of 24,355 people who receive food stamps, a wholly federally funded program, and the records of 86,386 people on the Medicaid program, which provides health care for the poor and disabled and is state and federally funded.
O’Brien quoted from the study, noting that over 9 percent of those receiving food stamps have an out-of-state primary address and more than 5,500 of those on Medicaid have an out-of-state primary address.
He said 56 dead people were listed on a Medicaid search, including a woman who died in November 1983 and over 2,800 people with assets over $400,000 were discovered, including a woman who owns property valued at $1.2 million.
“What this report confirms is that the problem is fairly widespread and also that the taxpayers are paying a lot of money for people who should not be collecting welfare,” O’Brien said. He noted that not all the cases constitute welfare fraud, but if a small fraction do, that is still millions of taxpayer dollars that could be saved.
“More importantly, if we put proper controls in place, those who hope to commit welfare fraud will know that New Hampshire is not the place to try it,” O’Brien said.
Smith defended the state’s methods designed to ensure people on state social service programs are eligible.
He said data from the report are questionable.
Having a car registered out of state does not mean a person is ineligible for New Hampshire benefits, Smith said. For example, a person moves to New Hampshire after just having registered a car in another state. That person is not going to register the car in New Hampshire until the registration expires, he said.
Smith said federal regulations for the Food Stamp program say if a person moves out of state for a period and returns to New Hampshire, the person is still eligible to receive food stamps as long as they don’t collect from two states at the same time.
Medicaid benefits cannot be used for out-of-state health care providers unless a specific provider has been approved by the department, Smith said. “How can you have fraud if you can’t spend your benefits?” he asked.
He said an independent division reviews the eligibility information and cases for accuracy. After the independent division’s review, the information is reviewed by federal officials “to be sure we are honest.”
“Our error rate is 4.75 percent, and of that, 1.88 percent is client cost,” Smith said. He said clients are supposed to inform the division if they change addresses or jobs within 10 days, but many do not.
He said intentional fraud is a fraction of 1 percent.
Through the report, Smith noted, the agency was able to certify two clients and looked into both cases. “In both cases we had it correct,” he said.
Improvements could be made to find people’s assets, Smith said. If there were a national database of banking information, he noted, welfare programs would know if someone was hiding assets.
“But that doesn’t exist and banks won’t share that information appropriately,” Smith said. “We saved $2.5 million last year because workers taking applications smelled something funny and referred the case to our fraud people.”
House Bill 1658 has already passed the House and is now before the Senate.
Under O’Brien’s proposal, a person on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Family program and someone applying to the program would have their information cross-checked against federal databases such as Social Security, Internal Revenue Service, Citizen and Immigration Services and Veterans Administration, and state agencies like the Department of Employment Security, Department of Corrections and housing and licensing.
AN ACT relative to the definition and regulation of installment loans.
SPONSORS: Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Boutin, Dist 16; Rep. Matt Quandt, Rock 13; Rep. Sapareto, Rock 5
This bill defines and regulates installment loans.
AN ACT relative to regulation of title loan lenders.
SPONSORS: Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Sanborn, Dist 7; Sen. De Blois, Dist 18; Sen. Boutin, Dist 16; Rep. Marshall Quandt, Rock 13; Rep. Hunt, Ches 7; Rep. Gidge, Hills 24; Rep. Baldasaro, Rock 3; Rep. Shaw, Hills 16
I. Increases the maximum percentage of interest allowed to be charged by title loan lenders annually.
II. Reduces the number of additional pay periods for which a lender may allow a title loan to be renewed.
III. Requires a borrower whose title loan has been renewed to pay at least 10 percent of the loan’s original principal balance at the time of renewal.
A newsletter for our constituents: # 5- March 15, 2012 [from the Lebanon Reps]
GUNS (Rep. Andy White)
Bills passed by the House:
HB 1244:allows trappers to carry a pistol or revolver for the purpose of self-defense while in the wilderness; the bill appropriately excludes weapons which might be used for the taking of game.
HB 1341:will permit discharge of firearms within the urban compact part of a city or town. The urban compact is an area where houses are closer to each other than 300 feet plus 300 additional feet around the houses. For obvious reasons, the Lebanon reps. thought this was a bad idea.
Gun bills killed by the House (FYI- we are actually debating this stuff):
HB 1318:would have allowed anyone over the age of 18 to carry a firearm openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded without any form of licensing from the state.
HB 1511:would have allowed convicted felons to possess firearms; yes, you read that right. The proponents say “this bill has merit and would help reduce workload on the over burdened court system and restore rights under the law for felons convicted of nonviolent offenses.” The House killed it 261-58.
EDUCATION (Rep. Frank Gould)
The following have passed the House:
CACR = constitutional amendments-reminder: you will be voting on these in November if they pass the House and the Senate with the appropriate number of votes (60%).
CACR 12:was passed by the House and amended by the Senate. It is going to a committee of conference so that the House and the Senate can address their differences. This bill gives authority to the General Court to define standards, establish standards for accountability, provide for funding where needed and have full discretion to determine state funding for education. Some final form of this will surely be on the November ballot. Currently, the Lebanon Reps. oppose a constitutional amendment that addresses education. We are not comfortable leaving the decision re: state funding up to the legislature. Wonder why…..
H1571:changes the education evaluation requirements of home-schooled students. It takes the Department of Education out of the mix, allowing the parents to maintain the records of the evaluations.
HB 1703:requires local high schools to have courses in business and financial literacy as a requirement for graduation. The state will require this course but will not help pay for it. This is an unfunded mandate.
A narrow escape: education bills killed by the House
HB 1713:would abolish the Department of Education and transfer all duties, etc. to the Commissioner and the board of education.
HB 1146:requiring pupils to stand during the pledge of allegiance, after a lengthy debate, was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL-killed) on a roll call vote.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (Rep. Frank Gould/ Laurie Harding)
HB1696-FN:is an education bill in part. It would have allowed prison inmates “earned time credits” off their sentences for successful completion of education programs such as GED or higher education programs. This bill was supported by a 14-1 vote of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee. It had the capacity to decrease the rate of recidivism, improve an inmate’s chance for success upon release and save money by decreasing the prison population. The parole board in the end would have the final say as to who would be admitted into this program. However, in the end the House overturned the committee recommendation of ought to pass and killed the bill.
BUSINESS AND TAXES (Rep. Susan Almy)
In the area of business and jobs, the NH House this term lets tax cuts rise above all other considerations, and has been particularly hard on regulation, including self-regulation, consumer protection and professional training requirements.
Passed by the House:
HB 1431:This bill will slash the requirements for being a barber/manicurist over the objections of a very large part of the cosmetology profession, which uses chemicals that are dangerous in the hands of an amateur. The Senate will probably kill it, if our numerous cosmetology constituents email the whole Senate.
HB 1474:makes the state Bar Association voluntary, something a few lawyers would prefer but most have opposed in the past, since it makes it much harder to weed out bad apples.
HB 1489:This bill cuts [actually, it increases it.] the heating oil import fee ending the SAFETANK program that pays for replacing unsafe and unusable tanks of low-income people, and endangering the long-established oil-spill clean-up program. Insurance coverage for oil spills does not exist. This program has rescued oil distribution companies, other businesses, towns, churches and ordinary citizens from catastrophic loss.
CACR 6:This past week CACR 6 re-surfaced in and was sent to a committee of conference.The House's version requires a 60% vote to create or raise any tax or license fee. This freezes and then cuts revenues both for the government and for the numerous professional boards, Fish and Game, and similar endeavors, as inflation eats away the fees and as economic changes both reduce revenues and shift the tax burden unfairly between payers. The Senate's version instead requires a 60% vote to raise any future budget above the level of the previous budget plus general inflation. This sets in stone the terrible service cuts made this term and the further cuts that might occur in any future recession, and ignores shifting needs, costs and population growth. If any version of either of these passes both bodies, it will be on the November ballot.
HEALTH CARE & HEALTH CARE REFORM (Rep. Laurie Harding)
HB 1297:relative to health care exchanges. This bill passed the House with a vote of 219-94 and would prohibit NH agencies and departments from participating in any planning effort that would put in place an exchange for health insurance. This exchange is an important part of the Health Care Reform law of 2010. NH’s lack of planning now will mean that the state will have to default to a federally designed health insurance exchange by 2014. HB 1297 stands in the way of NH being prepared for the future. This bill was opposed by the NH Attorney General, Department of Health and Human Services, NH Voices for Health, the NH Insurance Department, Anthem Blue Cross, the Business and Industry Association etc.
HB 1546:This bill encompasses the now infamous contraception amendment which passed last week by a vote of 196-150. This amendment offers an exception to current insurance coverage requirements for contraceptive drugs and procedures based on the business owners religious beliefs. Under the provisions of HB 1546 a business owner has the right to refuse to pay for contraception. It is important to recognize that the contraception mandate has been in place in NH for 12 years. At the time it was enacted, the Catholic Church remained silent. Religious organizations handled their religious opposition to paying for contraception by self-insuring or by not having a prescription drug program as part of their insurance options. The passage of HB 1546 represents the continuation of an ominous downhill spiral of women’s reproductive health rights.
AN ACT revoking amendments to supreme court rules 50 and 50-A.
SPONSORS: Rep. Sorg, Graf 3; Rep. B. Murphy, Rock 18; Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Mirski, Graf 10; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5
This bill revokes amendments to supreme court rules 50 and 50-A.
"....purporting to require attorneys to create or maintain a pooled interest-bearing trust account for clients' funds nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time, and to remit the interest earned thereby to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, are hereby declared to be unconstitutional and are rescinded and revoked.... "
HB 1395, revoking amendments to supreme court rules 50 and 50-A. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Gregory M Sorg for the Majority of Judiciary: The rulemaking authority of the supreme court under Part 2, Article 73-a of the New Hampshire constitution is limited to “rules governing the administration of all courts in the state and the practice and procedure to be followed in all such courts.” Notwithstanding this express limitation, the supreme court on December 29, 2010, ostensibly under authority of Article 73-a, issued a rule, to take effect on March 1, 2011, requiring attorneys to create or maintain a pooled interest-bearing trust account for clients’ funds nominal in amount or to be held for a short period of time, and to remit the interest earned to the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. The court was thus requiring attorneys to generate money to send to an organization founded by the court and administered by trustees appointed by the court, in order to support charitable activities approved by the court. The separation of powers enshrined in Part 2, Article 37 forbids the creation by the judicial branch of a parallel welfare state in which the supreme court is judiciary, legislature and executive all rolled into one, while the Thirteenth Amendment to the federal constitution forbids slavery or involuntary servitude, even of lawyers. Part 2, Article 73-a creates no exception to either proscription. Vote 13-4.
Rep. Lucy M Weber for the Minority of Judiciary: Attorneys maintain trust accounts to hold funds belonging to clients separate from funds belonging to the attorney or the law firm. When a significant sum belonging to one client is held for more than a few days, that client’s money is put into a separate bank account, and the interest on that bank account goes to the client when the account is closed, just as it would if the funds were held by a real estate agent or other agent. A trust account for pooled client funds is used only for small amounts of client money, or larger sums held for a very short period of time. Because the interest on this account does not belong to the attorney, lawyer’s trust funds accounts used to be put into non-interest bearing accounts. Obviously, the entity benefitting from the accrued interest on a non-interest bearing trust account is the bank. Some years ago, the supreme court created the IOLTA program—Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. Rather than being retained by the banks, the interest on IOLTA accounts is remitted by the bank holding the account to the Bar Association to be used for the provision of legal services to those in need, and for legal education programs.
Proponents of this bill argue that the accrued interest belongs to the client, and that the supreme court has no power to require the payment of the accrued interest to the Bar Foundation. The minority notes that this bill does not return this interest to any client. It would be impractical, in any case, to try to compute how much of each day’s interest has accrued to each client with funds in the lawyer’s trust account. Passage of HB 1395 simply reverts to the old standard of allowing the bank to keep any interest that would otherwise accrue on the lawyer’s trust account. The minority believes that the inherent power of the supreme court to regulate the practice of law includes the power to require attorneys to participate in the IOLTA program.
"...dissolve the membership of the United States in the United Nations, thereby freeing the nation from a large financial burden and retaining its sovereignty to decide what is best for this country as well as the steps that it considers appropriate to take as the leader of the free world, with full control of its armed forces and destiny..."
224:73 Judicial Council; Supplemental Appropriation; Counsel for Indigent Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases.
I. In addition to any other sums appropriated to the judicial council, the sum of $250,000 is hereby appropriated to the judicial council for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, for the purpose of covering costs associated with payment of counsel for indigent parents in abuse and neglect cases filed in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 and pending in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. Said appropriation shall not lapse until June 30, 2012. The governor is hereby authorized to draw a warrant for said sum out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.
II. Beginning October 1, 2011 through October 1, 2012, the judicial council shall provide a quarterly report on the use and expenditure of the appropriation in paragraph I to the fiscal committee of the general court.
224:74 Adequate Representation Costs. Amend RSA 604-A:1-a to read as follows:
604-A:1-a Neglected or Abused Children. In cases involving a neglected or abused child, when a guardian ad litem is appointed for the child as provided in RSA 169-C:10, the cost of such appointment shall be paid from funds appropriated for indigent defense pursuant to this chapter. [
AN ACT repealing the provision relative to the unauthorized use of firearms in the compact part of a city or town.
SPONSORS: Rep. Willette, Hills 6; Rep. Villeneuve, Hills 18; Rep. Welch, Rock 8; Rep. Gagne, Hills 13; Rep. Cunningham, Sull 2; Rep. Hardwick, Hills 2; Rep. Itse, Rock 9
COMMITTEE: Criminal Justice and Public Safety
This bill repeals the statute prohibiting unauthorized use of a firearm in the compact part of a city or town.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve
AN ACT repealing the provision relative to the unauthorized use of firearms in the compact part of a city or town.
1 Repeal. RSA 644:13, relative to unauthorized use of firearms and firecrackers, is repealed.
Docket (ITL, 239-108)
RELATING TO: the allocation of authority between the legislative and judicial branches.
PROVIDING THAT: the supreme court shall determine the constitutionality of judicial acts and the legislature shall determine the constitutionality of legislative acts.
SPONSORS: Rep. Sorg, Graf 3; Rep. Mirski, Graf 10; Rep. D. McGuire, Merr 8; Rep. Manuse, Rock 5; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5
This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution provides that the supreme court shall determine the constitutionality of judicial acts and the legislature shall determine the constitutionality of legislative acts.