Health bills become law without Lynch signature

Speaker of the House William O'Brien
Speaker of the House William O'Brien

Written By TOM FAHEY
Posted: July 15, 2011 3AM EST

CONCORD — Two bills meant to exert state control over federal health-care reform became law without Gov. John Lynch’s signature Thursday.

Speaker of the House William O’Brien and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said the two new laws are victories for New Hampshire consumers, the majority of whom reject so-called Obamacare and want it stopped.

House Bill 601 gives Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny power to continue work on implementing some provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will require everyone to have insurance by 2014. The bill also directs Sevigny to decline $666,000 in federal planning grant funds and tell the federal government to use it to lower the deficit.

The grant is meant to defray costs of establishing a health insurance exchange that will help consumers find affordable insurance. States that don’t create an exchange will have one imposed on them by federal authorities.

Lynch said the directive to return the money could raise legal problems because it is up to the governor and Executive Council to accept or decline the grant. He allowed the bill to become law, he said, “because I did not want New Hampshire to default into federal oversight.”

HB 601 also requires Sevigny or his successor to obtain approval from the Legislature before putting any ObamaCare programs in place.

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