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Renewal of expanded Medicaid one step closer to reality

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

April 25. 2018 8:02PM




CONCORD — The continued expansion of Medicaid health insurance to 50,000 low-income Granite State households got a resounding vote of support from the House Finance Committee on its way to a second House vote, most likely next week.

The 24-2 vote in the House Finance Committee on Wednesday marked another milestone in the bill’s progress to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu.

The bill, SB 313, reauthorizes Medicaid expansion for another five years, with a legislative review at the two-and-a-half year mark.

It passed the Senate in a 17-7 vote on March 8, and passed the House for the first time on April 5, in a 222-125 vote, based on the unanimous recommendation of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The House Finance Committee then took up the bill, setting the stage for another House vote.

Since the Legislature voted in 2014 to expand the criteria for Medicaid eligibility to embrace a larger number of households, more than 50,000 New Hampshire residents who were previously uninsured have acquired government-funded health insurance through the program.

It was reauthorized for another two years in 2016, and is set to expire at the end of 2018 if not renewed again.

The new version includes work or community service requirements for certain participants and conversion of the program to a managed care approach, instead of fee for service.

Funding for the state share, which rises to 10 percent by 2020, would come in part from the state’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund.

Continued Medicaid expansion is opposed by some of the most conservative House and Senate members, but otherwise enjoys bipartisan support, including Sununu.

Finance Committee member and House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, called the bill “a reasonable compromise.”

“It’s our most important tool to manage the opioid crisis, and it represents a solid investment that creates jobs in our economy. I don’t particularly like the work requirement, but as finally drafted it’s fair and won’t arbitrarily kick anyone off health insurance,” she said.

“The managed care approach will save money, and we found a stable funding source through the alcohol fund.”

New Hampshire was among 33 states that expanded Medicaid eligibility as part of the Affordable Care Act, with the goal of reaching a portion of the population not qualified for Medicaid at the time, but not earning enough to buy subsidized policies on the online marketplace.

New Hampshire already had more than 100,000 households on traditional Medicaid before the expansion.


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