Senate Finance Predicts Medicaid Caseloads Will Shrink

May 19, 2017

Credit josh rogers/nhpr

Budget writers in the New Hampshire Senate are predicting Medicaid caseload will drop over the next two years.  But underestimating caseloads in the program that benefits the poor helped cause the current state budget shortfall.

A day after the New Hampshire House voted to spend $33 million dollars to plug a budget hole caused in part by assuming fewer people would be on Medicaid, the Senate Finance Committee voted to assumed caseloads would drop by 2 percent next year. Before the vote, Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Myers urged caution.

"I think a 1 percent is reasonable, but I think a 2 percent is very aggressive and I would be concerned about it," Meyers said.

But Senate President Chuck Morse says the higher number is doable, particularly if the federal government allows the state to impose a work requirement and asset testing for Medicaid recipients.

"We've asked for it, we should be getting it," Morse said. "So, that alone could make this happen."

The issue divided the committee along party lines, with Republicans backing the caseload cuts and Democrats fighting them.

The current budget predicted caseloads would 2 percent each year. When that didn't happen it created an almost $9 million budget hole.