New Hampshire to create partnership health insurance exchange with feds

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has conditionally approved New Hampshire’s plan for a partnership health insurance exchange model. New Hampshire’s plan for a health insurance exchange as required by federal health insurance reform has evolved over recent months. Governor Lynch, the previous governor conceded to Obamacare opponents in the state for a short period and opted to allow federal control. Now, the state is planning to have some state control over the exchange utilizing the partnership model HHS created as a means of working with some of the holdout states.

Lawmakers in New Hampshire passed a bill that would outlaw a state run exchange in New Hampshire, federal supremacy clauses notwithstanding. However, provisions in that bill allowed the state to continue regulating health insurers and overseeing eligibility for Medicaid. For states that opt to go into the federally managed exchange, the federal government in essence takes on a lot of this responsibility for states as they decide what policies are on the exchanges.

Under the partnership model HHS created, states like New Hampshire can use the allowances in their local bills to maintain certain controls and leave the heavy lifting of building out the exchange to the feds. So now, New Hampshire will choose which policies are offered and will continue to regulate the insurers in the state. Medicaid responsibilities will also continue to reside in-state.

State lawmakers oppose the partnership plan and say more information is needed to determine whether the partnership model will cost local taxpayers money. As CivSource reported in February, HHS recently awarded the state a health care innovation grant to pay for different initiatives that may have some overlap into the exchange.

“New Hampshire’s health insurance marketplace will help more Granite Staters access quality, affordable health coverage, and moving forward with a partnership marketplace is critical for preserving oversight at the state level in order to ensure that the health insurance offered to our citizens and businesses meets their needs. I thank Secretary Sebelius and HHS for their quick approval, and I look forward to working with the federal government and in collaboration with the state legislature to ensure that New Hampshire maintains flexibility and is protected financially as we work to maximize the resources available to improve the health of our people,” Governor Hassan said.