SB 110 opponents flex their political muscle

While there are many ways to explain the results of the recent elections, it’s important for supporters of Senate Bill 110 to step back and realize that New Hampshire voters have sent a very clear message: scuttle the law as quickly as possible.

SB 110 – the so-called health-care marketplace “reform” measure — has been state law since January, and since then it has taken hundreds of small New Hampshire businesses hostage. Those businesses have found themselves either saddled with unconscionable double- and triple-digit health insurance rate hikes or making the difficult decision to cut back or eliminate employees’ health insurance altogether. In fact, from Day One, the law has proven to be a misguided experiment in a fanciful view of “competition,” using real businesses and real jobs as the guinea pigs.

Of course, casting a ballot is a complicated process, at least for most voters, but it’s safe to say that revulsion at SB 110 was at least an important contributor to the downfall of Gov. Craig Benson and the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Russell Prescott of Kingston as well 18 pro-SB 110 House incumbents who lost their re-election bids.

Benson, Prescott and other supporters insisted throughout the campaign that more time was needed for the law to work. They reasoned that, with more insurers entering New Hampshire’s marketplace, rates were destined to fall. What they ignored – to their political peril – was the damage the bill has done and is doing to businesses and their employees around the state.

It’s not a coincidence that Gov.-elect John Lynch and Prescott’s opponent, Maggie Hassan, both campaigned vigorously against SB 110.

It’s clear that business owners and employees victimized by SB 110 – as well as those paying attention and realizing that they might be next – went to the polls and let at least certain candidates know how they felt. The next move is the Legislature’s, and lawmakers should know they are on notice to clean up the mess created by SB 110 as soon as possible.

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