CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Calling it the best remaining option, Gov. Maggie Hassan sent a letter to Washington on Wednesday declaring the state’s intent to partner with the federal government to operate the new insurance markets required under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law.
In a statement, Hassan said her decision would allow the state to retain the most control possible while maximizing federal funding.
The law requires the creation of health exchanges, or marketplaces that will offer individuals and their families a choice of private health plans resembling what workers at major companies get. States that chose not to set up their own exchanges have until Friday to declare whether they will run an exchange in partnership with the federal government or let the federal government operate the exchange for them.
The New Hampshire Legislature passed a law last session prohibiting a state-run exchange, so that option was off the table. According to Hassan’s letter, the state will pursue two types of partnerships: a planned management partnership that would make the state responsible for regulating insurance companies and the plans they offer under the exchanges and a consumer assistance partnership that would involve helping consumers access the exchange.
‘‘I do not believe it is in the best interest of our people to allow the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all exchange on New Hampshire,’’ Hassan said. ‘‘As the process moves forward, I will work with the federal government and in collaboration with the state Legislature to ensure that New Hampshire maintains flexibility and is protected financially.
‘‘But we must make sure that we are maximizing the tools and resources available to help more New Hampshire families and businesses access quality, affordable health coverage.’’
Her decision has the backing of fellow Democrats in the Legislative leadership and the state departments of insurance and health and human services. But some Republicans worry that a partnership will end up costing the state money once federal funding runs out.
In her letter, Hassan notes that a partnership is essential to preserving the state’s traditional regulatory authority over insurance carriers, as well as its Medicaid program. The letter also specifies that the partnership will not impose a cost on the state’s general fund or create new state programs, the state may terminate the partnership at any time once it has properly accounted for any federal grant funding and details going forward are subject to the approval of a legislative oversight committee.