The past few weeks served as a cooling off period after last November’s special legislative session failed to produce a deal on Medicaid expansion between the Democratically-held House and GOP-controlled Senate.
The debate will roar back to life on Wednesday, though, when Democrats in the House say they’ll tack an expansion plan onto an unrelated bill.
The State Senate couldn’t pass the plan favored by GOP leaders, and then rejected a plan embraced by Democrats on party lines. Ultimately, the Senate adopted a second GOP proposal, before laying it on the table. Two hours later it rejected a Medicaid bill passed by Democrats in the N.H. House.
John Reagan is a Republican from Deerfield:
"I can contend with combinations of vagaries and certainties, but my friends to be steered and rushed is an invitation leading to rueful decisions."
Governor Maggie Hassan and House Democrats are offering to adopt the Senate’s plan for Medicaid expansion provided they make certain changes, but GOP leadership says the proposal falls short of a compromise.
On Wednesday, Hassan and House Speaker Terie Norelli outlined a package that would use the Senate’s language for expansion, but changes how and when individuals would access private insurance.
On Tuesday, both the House and Senate held public hearings on competing Medicaid expansion bills.
Supporters of growing the health program pulled out the same blue stickers they’ve worn at other recent public hearings. And many of the voices were the same, including doctors, nurses, advocates and citizens who shared stories about how access to health insurance would benefit low-income New Hampshire residents.
House and Senate committees are holding public hearings and work sessions on rival plans to expand Medicaid in New Hampshire this week. The House holds its public hearing Tuesday morning while the Senate's hearing on its plan is that afternoon. The committees working on the bills will vote on a recommendation Thursday, but whatever they decide may be superseded by any compromise negotiated behind closed doors by legislative leaders and Gov. Maggie Hassan. The House and Senate plans are essentially the same for the first year, but take different approaches after that.
Lawmakers returned to Concord Thursday to debate a major part of the federal health overhaul law: expansion of Medicaid. In New Hampshire, such a move would provide insurance coverage to an estimated 50,000 low income residents.
For the next two weeks, lawmakers will be in Concord to discuss Medicaid expansion, including an up-or-down vote. Governor Maggie Hassan says she’s open to ideas for how to expand the health program, but wants to make sure any final plan works for the state.
Hassan and leaders of both parties have been meeting privately to discuss ways to expand Medicaid, but as of yet haven’t hinted at a deal.
After the commission's recommendation last month, lawmakers will be debating expanding Medicaid in a special legislative session called by Governor Hassan; it remains to be seen how much bipartisan support the measure will have. We'll be watching the mayor's race in Manchester, where incumbent Mayor Ted Gatsas is being challenged by Alderman Patrick Arnold, and a special House election in Nashua, which pits former House Majority Leader Peter Silva against Democrat Latha Mangipudi.
New Hampshire is one of just a handful of states that hasn’t yet answered the Medicaid expansion question. Remember, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the federal health law last summer, it said Washington could not force states to expand their Medicaid programs that provides health care to the poor. States, instead, must be given a choice.
And so, for the better part of three months now, a special commission has been studying whether to add 50,000 more low income individuals to the program.