Medicaid Expansion Clears First Big Hurdle in N.H. House

Apr 5, 2018

A plan to extend New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion another five years cleared a major hurdle in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The House approved the bill by a vote of 222-125, over the objections of some Republicans who argued Medicaid expansion has been a failure and has driven up health insurance costs.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli, R-Tuftonboro, raised questions about a provision in the bill that would require Medicaid recipients to be employed or involved in some other community activity as a condition of getting coverage: “What systems are going to be needed to track compliance with these systems? How much will they cost? And who will manage them?”

Even those who voted for the bill expressed some reservations about the details included in the latest draft. Still, they said it was important to protect health coverage for the more than 50,000 people who are currently enrolled in the program.

“There are things in this bill that I don’t like. There are things in this bill that each of us don’t like, but that’s the nature of compromise,” said Rep. Jerry Knirk, D-Freedom.

Unlike the current version, people enrolled in expanded Medicaid get subsidies to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The new plan would move to a managed care model – where the state contracts with outside companies that have a financial incentive to keep the costs of medical care as low as possible. The new plan would also add new work and community engagement requirements.

The bill also got a bipartisan endorsement from the Senate last month but isn’t final yet. From here, it now goes to the House Finance Committee for further scrutiny.