Return to Sender
The N.H. House reached a veto-proof majority when it voted 261-104 to approve its own version of a Senate proposal to fight federal health care reform. But will the Senate concur?
The House version of Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Sen. Tom DeBlois (R-Manchester) requires the Attorney General to join the multi-state lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and requires New Hampshire to reject some $600,000 in federal grant money to help the state set up a health care exchange as provided for in last year’s law.
“This bill sends the Obamacare money back to Washington with specific instructions to use it to reduce our massive federal deficit,” O’Brien said in a press release. “Obamacare has been found unconstitutional by two federal courts and we are awaiting the final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Spending that sort of money to comply with a mandate that is three years away and stands on very shaky ground makes no sense.”
Daily Briefing notes that the reform act’s unconstitutionality is far from a foregone conclusion; the law been upheld by two different federal district courts. Also, if the state doesn’t use the federal money to set up a health care exchange network, the federal government will set up an exchange of its own. And finally, New Hampshire can suggest, and even suggest nicely, but Granite State legislators have no legal authority over what the federal government does with money the state returns.
Senate Bill 148 now returns to the Senate, which may or may not take a dim view of the House amendments — especially because the Senate had merely suggested (not required) that N.H. Attorney General Michael Delaney join the lawsuit.
Lynch will have a couple weeks before he has to make a decision either way on SB 148. But whether he simply lets the bill become law or risks an override, Daily Briefing believes this one ultimately will be decided in state court.
This Daily Briefing was written by Michael McCord.
>> During the next few weeks as more bills are hashed out between the House and Senate, the Daily Briefing will highlight some of the more controversial, interesting and frankly obvious decisions awaiting lawmakers and Lynch.
We’d also like to hear from you: What bills are you tracking and which ones should Lynch sign or veto? (Comments below, policy here.)