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March 13. 2013 10:50PM

House puts off action on Medicaid expansion vote

CONCORD - Whether the state should expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act will not be decided until next week.

The House put off action on House Bill 271, which would prohibit the state from expanding the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

The bill is sponsored by Former House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, who argues the program is unaffordable, not needed and claims it would "hijack the state's budget."

But opponents say the expansion will significantly increase the number of people with health insurance and will bring billions of dollars of federal money to the state's health care providers.

Under the expansion, those under 65 years old and below 138 percent of the poverty level, or about $32,000 for a family of four or $15,400 for an individual, would be eligible.

An expansion is projected to add about 58,000 people to the program in seven years, and along with other provisions of the ACA, would reduce the state's uninsured from about 170,000 to 71,000, according to a study done for the state.

Expanding the program would cost the state about $85 million over seven years, but would inject $2.5 billion into the state's economy, according to the study.

grayno@unionleader.com







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