By Kimberly Morin
On Saturday, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was canvassing a ward in Manchester to let voters know how their representative voted on Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion. The representative they were discussing today was Ward 1 Representative Joseph LaChance. LaChance not only voted for Medicaid Expansion but he was one of the prime sponsors of the bill in the New Hampshire House of Representatives – House Bill 1696.
In 2014 when Medicaid Expansion was first passed, Granite Staters were told the program would sunset once it wasn’t 100% covered with federal funds (note those are still New Hampshire taxpayer dollars). Clearly that wasn’t true since this was a re-authorization of the medical welfare program and the federal funds will start to fade. The scheme the legislature came up with is to have the hospitals pay the difference. Unfortunately, this only means that those who use these hospitals will end up paying higher costs. Hospitals aren’t going to cut into their bottom line because of this program.
Political Buzz interview AFP’s State Director Greg Moore about their effort to inform voters:
We believe it’s critical as an organization to let people know the policies that their representatives are voting for and supporting up in Concord and it’s absolutely critical more so to hold them accountable for those actions because the consequences they’re having upon the citizens.
Specifically, Moore spoke about LaChance because he previously signed the AFP pledge to oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion:
As it relates to rep Joe LaChance, he’s a particular case of interest for us because he is someone who signed the AFP pledge to oppose Medicaid Expansion. In fact, he actually put a little asterisk next to the issue of Medicaid Expansion and said he had a conflict of interest. He has gone from signing a pledge to oppose it; to announcing a conflict of interest; to being a prime sponsor of legislation that continued the Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare that is hurting families and it’s making people have a reason not to go to work at a time when we have 2% unemployment.
There are no work requirements under Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion, although some in the legislature tried to put them in place. Not only that but if anyone using this medical welfare program does get a job, they could lose their benefits if the job pays over a certain amount. This continues the cycle of poverty. It keeps people trapped within a system that doesn’t want to see them succeed because anytime they actually make the effort, they could lose their benefits.
Given LaChance’s conflict, he should have recused himself from any votes on the re-authorization of Medicaid Expansion but he didn’t. He was a prime sponsor of the bill. Political Buzz reached out to Representative LaChance who provided the following statement:
I think it is very important to realize there were a couple of bills submitted on the democratic side that had no stop gaps and insurance if the Feds did not pay. First off Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced at the federal level, period! I agree and support that. However, Medicaid Expansion is here and was already authorized. I found a way to continue it for two years and made the stakeholders pay for the remaining share the fed did not pay. It was a short term solution for something needing fixing at the federal level.
Allowing $850 million to go elsewhere and taking 40,000 off the rolls without a plan is not responsible. Medicaid Expansion should not have been approved in the first place and Obamacare is a disaster federally. However, we were faced with this situation and I found a fair solution that did not use any general funds. I have found sometimes when you are successful in politics you are attacked. My city is on fire with the heroin epidemic and 3,300 people used the substance abuse counseling and has saved lives. Lastly, NH business was very much for my bill on many levels. I feel my bill was a responsible short term solution for a problem needing long term fixing.
Unfortunately, this is typical of legislators who refuse to actually shrink government. This program was built to sunset yet because “it’s already here” means it will never go away due to the lack of courage to kill bad programs. Republicans in the senate used the same excuses in 2014 when they passed this massive medical welfare program – the Democrats were going to pass it anyway thanks to a Senators Boutin and Stiles, so they had to keep it but attempted to alter it. They really didn’t. Even Senator Chuck Morse admitted the state will indeed be paying millions for this welfare program:
Looking at 2018 as an example, Morse said New Hampshire’s expecting the federal government to contribute about $460 million toward the program, and the state would have to come up with $20-25 million to cover the rest of the costs.
Once again, the government creates a massive welfare program – the biggest in New Hampshire’s history. And once again, the taxpayers are on the hook for payment. Those federal funds they talk about come directly from Granite Staters. The program is already spending far above the original estimates and the general fund will have to come up with millions more than budgeted. Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion is not only keeping people in poverty but it’s hurting businesses who can’t seem to find the help they need because there’s zero incentive to work for thousands of Granite Staters.