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October 17. 2013 8:59PM

Joint public hearing dates set for Medicaid eligibility

CONCORD — Lawmakers will meet Nov. 7 and 21 to act on proposed legislation that would expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

A joint Senate and House public hearing on the proposal based on the final recommendations of the Commission to Study Medicaid Expansion will be held Nov. 12.

Work and executive sessions will be held later that week, with committee recommendations due Nov. 15.

The House and Senate will meet Nov. 21 to vote on the proposed legislation.

The Executive Council on Wednesday approved Gov. Maggie Hassan’s request for a special session with Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, the lone dissenting vote.

The Medicaid expansion commission recommends the state expand the Medicaid program to low-income adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but makes expansion contingent on federal officials approving the use of private insurance.

The plan would have the state expand Medicaid eligibility in order to maximize the available federal money, while using private insurance to cover as many newly eligible people as possible.

State officials estimate that about 49,000 low-income adults will be eligible for the Medicaid rolls under expansion and the state’s health care providers would receive $2.4 billion over the next seven years.

The commission included safeguards to halt expansion if the federal government reneges on its financial commitment or expands program benefits. Lawmakers would need to act to allow the program to continue.

Hassan and the Democratically-controlled House favor expansion, but supporters will need to win over some Senate Republicans to win passage. The Senate voted down party lines 13-11 to block expansion in June.

The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the newly eligible for three years beginning Jan. 1 and then reduce its share to 90 percent after seven years and thereafter.

Those eligible under the program would be individuals earning about $16,000 a year, and three-member families earning $23,000.

New Hampshire is one of a handful of states still deciding whether to expand Medicaid.

grayno@unionleader.com.

For more on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire visit unionleader.com/aca.


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