Primary Over, The New Hampshire House Gets Right Back to Work

Feb 10, 2016

Despite Tuesday's primary wrapping up late Tuesday night, the New Hampshire House returned to business the very next morning.

Lawmakers had a slate of bills on the docket Wednesday from continuing Medicaid expansion for another two years, to funding full-day kindergarten.

When it came to Medicaid expansion, the debate was long-winded with lawmakers introducing more than a handful of floor amendments from enforcing a cap on how many people can enroll in the health protection program to referring the issue to a study committee. Both of which failed. 

But after nearly two hours of debate, the measure, backed by Republicans and relying  in part on money from hospitals and insurance companies, passed 207 to 136.

What it came down to was this: "I believe we would be unwise to leave the 47,000 working poor to fend for themselves while we are fixing this system. We can pay now or we can pay much more later," said Republican Rep. John Fothergill of Colebrook. The bill now heads to House Finance.

Also debated was a bill that would link people who are given the overdose drug Narcan to recovery coaches. That bill won't pass this year. Instead, lawmakers will give the idea further study.

Those in favor of that bill, including  Rep. Gary Hopper of Weare, told lawmakers Wednesday that New Hampshire's ongoing drug crisis demands action now - not study. Hopper argued that the period right after someone overdoses is the best time to urge them towards treatment.

“I would like it if you could start looking at these people almost as a teenager who just slit their wrists and goes to the ER – you wouldn’t just discharge them and say ‘hey, have a nice day’ you would get them help,” Hopper told his colleagues. 

But opponents said the bill left too many questions unanswered, including who would pay for recovery coaches and what the training would entail.

Lawmakers also killed a bill that would put additional state dollars into full-day kindergarten, as well as a bill to create a statewide registry for heroin offenders.