New Hampshire Senate Race May Reveal Obamacare's Fate

Image: New Hampshire Senate Race May Reveal Obamacare's Fate Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, left, and former Sen. Scott Brown

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 07:43 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican challenger Scott Brown may show whether the Affordable Care Act will be fixed or axed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

New Hampshire had a rocky implementation of Obamacare. For now, only Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering insurance under the plan. Ten hospitals of 26 in the state are not participating. A fifth of the state's health providers are not in Anthem's network, according to the Journal.

At the same time, more than 21,000 people have enrolled in the state exchange – more than the announced target. In addition, 50,000 individuals will soon be covered, thanks to the state's participation in the expanded Medicaid coverage program. Percentage-wise, enrollment in New Hampshire, at 114 percent of the target, has outperformed national Obamacare enrollment, which achieved 106 percent of its goal, the Journal reported.

The state has long been considered a bellwether of political trends nationwide, according to the Journal. The impact of Obamacare on Shaheen's political future could preview how well Democratic candidates elsewhere, associated with the president's signature healthcare plan, will fare.

"It is unfortunate that critics of the law want to repeal it, but they don't have a plan to replace it,"  Shaheen told the Journal.

Polls show Shaheen ahead 45 percent to 39 percent. However, her unfavorable ratings have risen from a pre-Obamacare rollout 22 percent to 35 percent now, the Journal reported. A poll commissioned by the Republican Governors Association has Brown taking a five-point lead over Shaheen

Some voters who supported Shaheen in her previous campaign remain firmly in her camp. They may have been frustrated in registering through the state's health-exchange site, but ultimately came out financially ahead. Others who were threatened with the loss of coverage are more ambivalent, the Journal reported.

Brown wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act altogether.

"Obamacare forces us to make a choice, live free or log on – and here in New Hampshire, we choose freedom," Brown said, according to the Journal. "The only way to get rid of Obamacare is to get rid of the Obamacare Democrats who voted for it."

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