Did Gov. Chris Sununu reverse course from anti-Obamacare extremist to defender of the Affordable Care Act?

That’s the allegation from New Hampshire Democrats in the wake of Sununu’s announcement Wednesday that his administration is joining a bipartisan group of governors in supporting the ACA when it goes back before the Supreme Court.

“As unsuccessful as the Affordable Care Act has been in bringing down costs, repealing the program without an adequate replacement would be harmful to the citizens of New Hampshire.  The state has no choice but to join the bipartisan effort to defend the program,” Sununu said in a statement to NHJournal.

Democrats accuse Sununu of reversing course out of political necessity. Sen. Dan Feltes’ campaign manager Nick Taylor called Sununu’s decision a “desperation move.”

“Once again, Sununu is trying to cover his political vulnerabilities while keeping his corporate special interests happy. His past support of Trumpcare & repealing the ACA is a problem in this election & he’s desperate to re-write his record. It’s too late,” Taylor tweeted.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, another Concord Democrat running for governor, said Sununu’s move “has everything to do with the fact that this is an election year, and nothing to do with an interest in healthcare for all.”

So is it true that Sununu’s decision to defend the ACA is a flip-flop?

1: Yes, Sununu Supported the Repeal of Obamacare:

In 2017, Sununu joined a group of GOP governors sending a letter to then-Speaker Paul Ryan supporting a House vote to repeal the ACA. “We humbly request that you vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and to reform the system going forward,” the letter read. The morning after the House passed the repeal bill, Sununu told the Concord Monitor he was pleased.

“I love the idea that Congress is taking action, the president is taking action,” he said. “They’re listening to the American people and they’re moving the ball forward.”

2: No, Sununu Did Not Support the Final GOP Version of the ACA Repeal:

Repeatedly during the ACA repeal debate, Sununu reiterated his position that the House bill was the beginning of the process, but needed additional reforms. When the Senate GOP settled on a final compromise, the Graham-Cassidy bill, Sununu issued a statement opposing it, opposition that was noted in the New York Times.

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire,” Sununu said. “As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted.”

3: Sununu’s Defense of the Current ACA is Nothing New:

Last July, Sununu signed a bill sponsored by Feltes making parts of the ACA, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, state law. And despite claims by Feltes’ spokesman that Sununu “voted against Medicare expansion,” the governor signed the bill bringing the ACA Medicaid policy — with an additional work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependent children — to New Hampshire.

4: Sununu Called for End of Some ACA Tax Hikes… And So Did Jeanne Shaheen:

In 2018, Sununu urged the then-GOP-controlled Congress to abolish some ACA taxes including the individual mandate, the Health Insurance Premium Tax (HIT) and the Medical Device Tax (MDT). His allies in that fight: N.H. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan. Shaheen led the effort to postpone some ACA taxes until at least 2022.

5: ‘Too Little, Too Late’ Could Also Be Viewed as “Right on Time”:

Democrats accuse Sununu of joining the governors defending the ACA as a last-ditch political move. Perhaps. But it’s also the case — as Sununu spokesperson Ben Vihstadt notes — that the anti-ACA lawsuit only hit critical mass on Monday when the Supreme Court agreed to hear it.

“Up until now, this case has been litigated in a different state and different federal circuit, where rulings would not have an immediate impact on New Hampshire. Now that the Supreme Court has taken the case, there is potential for a ruling that would affect our state and so Governor Sununu is taking action.”

So, Did Sununu Flip-Flop on the ACA?

No. Attacking him for opposing Obamacare in principle is completely reasonable, but Sununu’s long record of supporting elements of the bill and opposing specific GOP versions of repeal and replace is a matter of public record.

We give these claims a grade of:

Poor research, unfounded arguments and lacking in context. Needs improvement!

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