A study finds excessive alcohol consumption is costing the state just over $1.1 billion annually due to factors such as lost worker productivity and medical costs.
The statewide nonprofit advocacy group New Futures put together the study, which also contains several policy recommendations.
Chief among them is incorporating alcohol treatment into Medicaid expansion. But Tricia Lucas with New Futures says that is dependent on lawmakers moving forward with expansion, something they will consider this session.
“For me that is the most significant opportunity that we have to expand access to treatment for people who are in the greatest need.”
Much of the discussion during a presentation Friday focused on the lack of public funding for alcohol prevention and treatment programs.
The study suggests using a portion of profits from state liquor sales.
The study also suggests increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages. Lucas understands raising taxes is never easy, but adds:
“The reality is that the beer tax in this state is at 30 cents a gallon and has not been raised except for one temporary period since 1983.”
A bill before the House would increase the beer tax to 40 cents. It would provide roughly $4 million for alcohol treatment programs.
Beer manufacturers have expressed strong opposition to the bill. Governor Maggie Hassan said earlier this week she would veto the measure, should it reach her desk.