Lawmakers Stand Behind Medicaid Expansion Program After Addiction Treatment Providers Raise Concerns

Jun 13, 2018

N.H. Senate majority leader Jeb Bradley
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a chief architect of the state's new Medicaid expansion program, is pushing back against financial concerns raised by mental health and substance abuse treatment providers.

Providers rallied in Concord Monday, saying new reimbursement rates, which will take effect in January, will be too low. That would mean, in the midst of a mental health and opioid crisis, they would be forced to roll back services to stay afloat, they said.

But the rates are yet to be finalized, and Bradley said he’s confident the Department of Health and Human Services will negotiate an adequate structure.

“I have met with a couple of the providers, and I understand their concerns,” he said. “But I think they have to let the process play out some, too.”

The legislature voted this year to transition patients enrolled in New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid program – about 43,000 low-income residents – away from subsidized plans on the individual insurance market into managed care plans, with the rest of the state’s Medicaid population. Plans on the individual market reimburse at a higher rate.

Though the change was aimed as a cost-cutting measure, lawmakers were aware it could put mental health and substance abuse treatment providers at risk, said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, a democrat who served on the state’s Medicaid expansion commission. For that reason, she and her colleagues included language in the law directing DHHS to establish rates adequate to maintain access to these services. This provision should guard against the providers' concerns, she said. 

While rates are being set, DHHS is working on a set of recommendations for Governor Chris Sununu to reduce the overall administrative burden for mental health providers, said DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers in a statement.