HHS Secretary: Obamacare Insurance Spending Law ‘Not Good for the People of New Hampshire’

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 19, 2011 | 5:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at the Capitol on Thursday that the health care law’s medical spending requirement for health insurance companies is “not good for the people of New Hampshire.”

Sebelius was asked if she is concerned that more states will request waivers from the health care law.

“I think, again, the flexibility that was given to us by Congress is there for a reason. We won’t have a new competitive, affordable health market until 2014 and the goal is really to build toward 2014 in the least disruptive manner possible,” she told reporters during a press conference about the House Republicans FY2012 budget.

“Whether it’s the less than 2 percent of the marketplace who frankly have gotten a waiver for the annual limit coverage – and it is under 2 percent that that affects – or a state like New Hampshire where there are only two plans in the market; the smaller plan has 30 percent and they have said definitively they can’t meet 80 percent this year – they will have to leave the market – that’s not good for the people of New Hampshire.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

HHS denied New Hampshire’s request for a waiver to exempt health insurance companies in the state from having to spend at least 80 percent of their premium revenues on medical care this year as the health care requires.


HHS instead reached a compromise, which requires insurance companies in New Hampshire to spend 72 percent on health care this year, 75 percent in 2012 and then meet the law’s requirement of spending 80 percent from 2013 on.

Sebelius said the federal government looks at each state’s situation individually.

“Our goal really is on a state-by-state basis using the flexibility that Congress gave us to try and stabilize the existing market, give some help and hope to people who have no other place to turn for coverage and recognize that in some cases even bad coverage is better than no coverage but in 2014 the rules will change fundamentally,” she said.

Sebelius also criticized Republicans who are encouraging more states to request waivers from the health care spending requirement in the law.

“Saying blanket everybody should get a waiver means that they [Republicans] feel that health insurance profits which have now risen to the highest level, I think, in history should continue to rise and that more and more people should be forced to drop out of the marketplace because their rates will get less and less affordable. I think that’s an unfortunate look at the world,” she said.