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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Committee's challenge: how to accept Medicaid money
The commission seeks a Medicaid expansion plan to address Senate Republicans' desire for a uniquely New Hampshire solution that uses private insurers to cover the newly eligible Medicaid recipients between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
State Medicaid Director Katie Dunn told the commission her agency believes it eventually can include between 12,000 and 13,000 individuals under the HIPP program.
However, last week the state Insurance Department threw a monkey wrench into the caldron. With Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield the only general health carrier in the exchange, the choice Medicaid requires for participants is non-existent.
The Health and Human Services Department had raised the red flag over using the one-carrier exchange early in the process, but the Insurance Department, until last week, maintained the requirement was for choice of plans, which Anthem offers with 12.
In August, the federal government awarded the "navigator" contracts to Bi-State Primary Care Association, a charitable organization representing 12 community health centers and one rural health network, and to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, leaving that organization three months to train its personnel.
The group manages the state's high-risk health insurance pool for individuals who are unable to obtain coverage from private insurers, but the high risk pool goes out of existence Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.
If the commission decides to go ahead with the private insurance option through the exchange, those eligible for Medicaid may be in a pickle. Under the best-case scenario, it will be difficult for the state to expand its Medicaid program by the Jan. 1 deadline to optimize the federal dollars available to the state.
Where does that leave people who qualify for expansion but cannot afford to purchase insurance on the exchange and adults below the poverty line who have no access to the exchange? The situation is confusing and convoluted, and that is not likely to change any time soon.
To go or not to go, that is the question.
The Legislature Ethics Committee meets Tuesday to decide whether lawmakers can attend the Business and Industries Association's annual dinner and awards celebration without violating the legislative ethics code.
The 24 senators and the chairs and vice chairs of House committees have been invited to attend the $125-per-head event free of charge.
One exception the committee will review allows lawmakers to accept tickets or free admission to charitable, ceremonial or political events if a political contribution report is filed, the organization is a registered charity or the event is open to all legislators.
In years past, the Senate president and House speaker were invited to attend the annual meeting, but this is the first time in a while a large contingent of lawmakers has been invited.
The committee could decide whether accepting the tickets violates the ethics code, and that would be binding, with the written opinion to be issued later.
A bill to be introduced next year would require health organizations to treat the iron-laden blood of those with hemochromatosis and make it available for the state's blood supply.
Rep. Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, has agreed to be the prime sponsor of the bill for next session, and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, has agreed to be the Senate sponsor.
Garry Rayno covers the State House for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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