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.