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In N.H., Brown criticizes health care law

Says rules harm hospitals, patients

Scott Brown and wife, Gail Huff, stopped to talk with hospital visitor John Hogan of Freedom, N,H, while touring Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., on Tuesday.
Scott Brown and wife, Gail Huff, stopped to talk with hospital visitor John Hogan of Freedom, N,H, while touring Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., on Tuesday.Cheryl Senter for the Boston Globe

ROCHESTER, N.H. — In his 2010 race for US Senate in Massachusetts, Scott Brown pledged to be the 41st vote against President Obama’s health care bill, warning it would lead to higher taxes and lower quality of care.

He did not succeed in stopping the Affordable Care Act, of course. But now, as he explores a run against US Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Brown is back at it, making the law the main target of his campaign and pointing to what he says are real life examples of it hurting people.

“The average citizen who wants to get care and coverage, their choices are different and they are minimized as a result of ObamaCare,” Brown said during a Tuesday visit to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, a city of about 30,000 people.

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At present, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire is the only company selling insurance to Granite State residents through the federal online health insurance marketplace. To keep premium costs lower, about 10 of the state’s hospitals — including Frisbie — are excluded from Anthem’s network in policies bought through the exchange.

Brown held meetings with hospital staff, who told him they are “very concerned that they’re not in the network.”

Other health insurers are expected to offer plans through the marketplace in the future. But for now, Frisbie remains left out, the hospital’s president, Alvin Felgar, said.

An Anthem spokesman noted that the marketplace is only designed to serve a segment of their customers, including, for example, those who do not have coverage through an employer.

On his tour on Tuesday, Brown admired artwork on the hospital walls, particularly two paintings of Fenway Park. He greeted people in the outpatient surgery waiting room. And he listened attentively as Felgar ticked through the hospital’s vital statistics.

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Later, speaking to reporters, Brown blasted Shaheen, President Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden — who held an event on workforce development in New Hampshire Tuesday — “for a trail of broken promises” about the health care law. In particular, he said, the Democrats had broken their pledge that if people liked their doctors and hospital, they could keep them.

He said he would push to undo the law, should he return to the Senate.

Asked what would happen to the people who had signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act if it were repealed, Brown said there would “obviously need to be a transition period and we would allow the states to come in with a plan that would help them” but offered no other details.

In response to his visit in Rochester, the Shaheen campaign knocked the incumbent senator’s potential opponent in a statement.

“Scott Brown may be standing at a New Hampshire hospital today, but like always, he’s standing up for the big oil barons and corporate special interests who want to kill the Affordable Care Act and deny health care to people in New Hampshire,” said Shaheen campaign spokesman Harrell Kirstein.

Brown, who won an upset victory in his 2010 Senate special election in Massachusetts but was unseated by Elizabeth Warren in 2012, said earlier this month he was exploring a run against Shaheen. If he jumps into the race, he would face several other candidates in the GOP primary.


Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.

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