Health
10:11 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

GOP Budget Writers Vote Down Medicaid Expansion

Saying there’s simply too much uncertainty, top Senate budget writers voted 4-2 against expanding the state’s Medicaid program on Wednesday.

Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) says he has concerns the Federal government won’t be able to meets its promises to fund the expansion long-term.

And he says it’s unclear if the program would even improve care for the uninsured.

"I’m not a big fan of spending a whole lot of money on something that seems to me to have some doubts as to whether or not it is effective," says Bragdon. He's instead calling for the creation of a study commission that would look into issues surrounding expansion. 

A Supreme Court decision last summer said states must be given the option to expand as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The Federal Government will cover 100% of the costs of expansion through 2017, phasing down to 90% through 2020. GOP lawmakers say there is no guarantee, though, that Washington will fully meet its obligation.

"We have been disappointed before with these types of promises and need to be cautious," says Bragdon.

Democrat Lou D’Allesandro told colleagues he doesn’t want to see the state miss an opportunity to improve its health care system.

"How many times in our life do we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people?" 

D'Allesandro says he 'couldn't disagree more' with the decision to strip Medicaid expansion from the budget.

An independent study found expansion will provide roughly 60,000 additional New Hampshire residents with health coverage, and bring $2.5 billion in federal money into the economy. It comes with an estimated $27 million price tag to the state.