Senate to Vote on Whether to Continue Medicaid Expansion

Mar 31, 2016

After more than a year of debates and discussion, lawmakers could take their final vote Thursday on whether to continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program for another two years.

If the Senate passes the bill without change, it could be signed into law as early as this week.

Currently 48,000 New Hampshire residents are insured through the state’s Medicaid expansion program. But the program, authorized through the federal Affordable Care Act, is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. 

The proposed program reauthorization is similar to the current one, with two key differences. For one, the state’s hospitals and insurance companies will be picking up the program cost that the federal government will no longer be covering starting next year. Second, the proposal requires participants to work or volunteer for 30 hours a week.

Related: HB1696, the reauthorization bill, is broken down in our recent primer on Medicaid expansion.

But those opposed are critical the share the hospitals and insurers have agreed to pay will fall on people who pay for health insurance through increased premiums. Meanwhile, supporters argue health care costs would only rise further if the program doesn't continue.

On the floor Thursday, a lengthy debate is likely, as well as some amendments. There will likely be an effort to get rid of a clause that would ensure the program continues even if federal officials reject the proposed work requirements.

So far states that have proposed similar work requirements have all been rejected. But if the bill remains as is, Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she will sign it.