N.H. Medicaid Expansion Overwhelmingly Passes Republican-Backed House

Mar 10, 2016

The House voted 216 to 145 to reauthorize Medicaid expansion for another two years. The bill now heads to the Senate.

But that was after much debate on the floor Wednesday – more than two hours of it.

This issue crossed party lines with the Republicans who supported the bill stressing to their colleagues on the right that this bill does not use state dollars but rather saves it. As the bill is written, the state's insurance premium tax as well as hospitals and insurance companies have agreed to pick up the tab the federal government will no longer be paying in 2017.

“Forty-eight thousand fellow citizens will lose their health care and New Hampshire will not benefit from the inflow of 850 million federal dollars – I don’t see any reward in this scenario,” said Rep. Stephen Schmidt, a Republican from Wolfeboro. Many who spoke in favor of the bill also pointed to the $140 million the program has saved on treatment for those without health insurance. 

Related: HB1696 is broken down in our recent primer on Medicaid expansion.

Meanwhile those opposed to the bill argue that although zero state dollars are used it will cause private health insurance costs to go up. 

Besides the number of people who spoke in favor or against the measure there was also a few amendments presented. One aimed to tack Keno onto the Medicaid legislation, which many argued was irrelevant to this particular bill. According to House Speaker Shawn Jasper, any bill that passes the House can then be attached to future legislation that session. That same Keno bill was passed by the full House earlier this year and is now over in the Senate. 

An amendment that supporters say is crucial to this program moving forward after it sunsets in December did however pass. This measure would ensure that if the federal government rejects the bill's work requirements the state's Medicaid program will not shut down. The vote came down to a 181 to 181 tie with House Speaker Shawn Jasper being the deciding vote. 

Gov. Maggie Hassan applauded the House’s passage, stating that Medicaid expansion is vital to tackling the state’s opioid crisis.