Twin State Chiefs Differ On Repeal

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/24/2017 12:10:58 AM
Modified: 6/24/2017 12:11:10 AM

West Lebanon — The Republican governors of New Hampshire and Vermont are taking somewhat different stances on the U.S. Senate GOP health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

In a statement released by his office on Friday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott noted that he has argued that any changes should “not undermine coverage or reduce funding that supported the Medicaid expansion” under Obamacare, and that he previously has come out against the House version of the Republican bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

“As we work to fully review the U.S. Senate bill, I continue to have serious concerns over the harmful impact this legislation would have on Vermonters, and on both Vermont’s success in providing near universal coverage and having one of the lowest uninsured rates and highest performing health systems in the country,” Scott said.

“My team and I will continue to work with Vermont’s congressional delegation and other governors who are advocating to protect the progress we’ve made in health care. I urge Congress to take the time to listen to the states and their people, so we can ensure the gains Vermont has made over the last 30 years are preserved.”

Meanwhile, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, like Scott a first-term Republican governor, released a joint letter he wrote with Senate President Chuck Morse and House Speaker Shawn Jasper to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that took a different stance.

While the New Hampshire Republicans noted that they, too, “have not been able to support” the Republican version in the U.S. House, they signaled they would welcome replacement of the Affordable Care Act, as long as certain New Hampshire-style innovations are protected.

“In New Hampshire, the Affordable Care Act falls short because it lacks a coherent approach to stemming rising costs, relies too heavily on bureaucratic, centralized systems controlled by the federal government, erodes the doctor-patient relationship and fails to give states sufficient flexibility to develop their own approaches,” Sununu and the other New Hampshire GOP leaders wrote.

They said they would like to see federal legislation that retains state primacy in regulating health care; makes federal money available as soon as possible to stabilize health insurance markets; gives states sufficient time, money and flexibility to develop state-specific approaches to Medicaid; and boosts transparency about the cost of health services to improve competition.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option,” the Sununu letter said. “Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with replacement.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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