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November 21. 2013 12:28PM

Senate Republicans amend then table Medicaid expansion bill to await House action

CONCORD – Senate Republicans regrouped Thursday to pass a Medicaid expansion amendment on a party-line vote, but still lack the votes needed to pass the bill in full.

The Senate voted 13-11 to approve the new plan as an amendment to Special Session Senate Bill 1 that would require all those who qualify under expansion to receive their health care coverage from private insurers.

The program would not begin until the state receives a federal waiver.

The Senate also voted along party lines to kill a Democratic proposal to extend the bridge between the state's managed care Medicaid program and private insurance for two years instead of the one year Republicans want.

The Senate voted along party lines to table SSSB 1 to await action on a House bill and its 29 amendments before taking final action on Medicaid expansion later today.

The House, after more than five hours of debate and votes on the the issue, five proposed Republican amendments and several GOP procedural moves, passed the Democratic Medaid expansion plan backed by Gov. Maggie Hassan and House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portmouth.
Passage came on a roll call vote of 198-146, moving the bill to the Senate.
Earlier in the day, three Republican senators joined all 11 Democrats to defeat Senate President's Chuck Morse's Medicaid expansion plan.

All the plans would use an existing program to pay premiums of those who have health insurance through their employers and private insurance to provide coverage to the approximately 49,000 individuals newly eligible for Medicaid. The difference is whether the newly eligible would be covered by the state's existing Medicaid program or would have to wait until private insurance is approved by federal officials.

In the House, members approved the House Democrats' plan on a 204-151 vote after spending more than an hour on procedural issues raised by Republicans.

The Senate has 5 p.m. deadline in today's session.

Earlier article continues below.



3 GOP senators join Democrats to defeat Morse Medicaid expansion plan


CONCORD – Three Republican senators joined all 11 Democrats to defeat Senate President Chuck Morse's Medicaid expansion plan.

The plan would have used an existing program to pay premiums of those who have health insurance through their employers and private insurance to provide coverage to the approximately 49,000 individuals newly eligible for Medicaid with one year of coverage through the existing state managed care Medicaid program.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said the plan meets the goals established to use federal dollars to provide private insurance for low-income adults and protect the taxpayers of the state from an unsustainable entitlement, and he called the plan a reasonable compromise.
"Without the reform, without changes to bring personal responsibility, without bringing taxpayer protections into the Medicaid system, we cannot support any compromise put forward," he said.

But Democrats argued the plan is unworkable because no new insurance companies believe it is possible to offer policies on the state health insurance marketplace within the Republican timeframe.

Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, said legislators have compromised and the two sides agree on many aspects of the Senate Republican plan, but "what we cannot agree to is a set-up for failure ... Let's make sure we don't crash before we have a chance to fly."
The Republican plan was voted down on a 14-10 vote, with Republican Sens. Sharon Carson of Londonderry, Russell Prescott of Kingston, and Andy Sanborn of Bedford voting with Democrats to kill the plan.
The Senate will take up two more amendments including one from Republicans that would begin the private insurance requirement without a bridge year, once the state has a federally approved amendment.

Democrats will introduce an amendment reflecting the last compromise offer from Gov. Maggie Hassan's office that would extend the bridge to private insurance to two years.

In the House, members approved the House Democrats' plan on a 204-151 vote after spending more than an hour on procedural issues raised by Republicans.

The Senate has a 5 p.m. deadline today.
grayno@unionleader.com


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