The star attraction this week at the special 9-member commission studying a possible expansion of the state's Medicaid program was Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and popular conservative blogger with Forbes.com.
Whether it’s the debate over expanding Medicaid or the struggle to improve mental health services, his department has seen its share of challenges lately, but did receive a bit of a boost in the last budget. We’ll talk with the commissioner about all this, and controversy over the state’s Medicaid managed care plan.
- Nick Toumpas - Commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
At the end of the legislative season, New Hampshire lawmakers decided to spend the summer studying whether the Granite State should accept or reject federal funds to extend Medicaid to more residents. A special committee has held weekly sessions on this, with a deadline of mid-October. We’ll find out what they’re looking at and what they may decide.
If you’ve got health insurance, you know it can be hard to get a routine doctor’s appointment.
Representative Neal Kurk (R-Weare), who sits on the commission studying a possible Medicaid expansion, worries it could get harder.
“As a public official, will I start getting calls from my constituents saying, I had to wait another seven weeks for my doctor’s appointment? My operation took much longer on the left hip that it did on the right hip,” says Kurk.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department took an overwhelmingly positive view on expansion during its presentation to the Medicaid Expansion Study Commission, the body that will decide if the state grows the health care program for the poor under so-called Obamacare.
Department officials told the nine-member body that expansion would benefit a wide range of groups, including insurance companies, hospitals and employers with low-paid workers.
A special commission looking into a possible expansion of the state’s Medicaid program met Monday for the first time.
The body consists of nine voting members, including five Democratic appointees and four by Republicans.
They put partisanship aside during the first meeting, unanimously selecting Jim Varnum to chair the group. He was tapped to serve by Governor Hassan after leading Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital for nearly three decades.
At 60-years old, Wendy Rogers considers herself lucky. She’s healthy, her kids are grown. There’s just one thing that gets her down: health insurance.
“I really don’t let myself think about it, because it overwhelms me.”
Rogers lives in Franklin, in a tidy apartment decorated with framed photos of friends and family. She lost her insurance three years ago, after getting laid off from a local school district where she was a kindergarten aide. Now she works part time at a child-care center.
Rogers says she relies on family for medical expenses.
The heavy lifting on the state’s next two year budget wrapped up a little past 3 a.m. Thursday. So when the two sides gathered less than twelve hours later to make it official, House budget leader Mary Jane Wallner was happy to call it a day.
“That’s it. I think we’re done. We’re adjourned!”
But despite that celebratory flourish, lawmakers are far from done when it comes to Medicaid.
Leaders in the Democratically-controlled New Hampshire House are seeking to cut a deal with Senate Republicans that would expand the state’s Medicaid program. But hours after receiving the proposal Tuesday, members of the upper chamber said they can’t move forward with the plan, and offered their own course of action.
Medicaid expansion remains a key sticking point as lawmakers seek to finalize the state’s next budget by Thursday’s deadline.
Women’s health advocates took to the statehouse today, calling for an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The issue remains a sticking point as lawmakers work to finalize the state’s budget.
Planned Parenthood’s Jennifer Frizzell estimates that 61% of those able to sign up for an expanded Medicaid program are women, and she accuses GOP lawmakers of being oblivious to what they want.