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 The committees working on the bills will vote on a recommendation Thursday, but whatever they decide may be superseded by any compromise negotiated behind closed doors by legislative leaders and Gov.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.
On the Political Front this morning, NHPR's Josh Rogers talks with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about the state of Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire and how the race is shaping up in the 1st Congressional District.
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.
Tyler Brannen, a health policy analyst with the Department, testified that people who buy their own insurance also stand to gain.
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.
“I appreciate the opportunity and the confidence you have,” says Varnum. “This is such an important task for all of us.”
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.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion filled the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord for a mid-morning press conference. The show of force comes in advance of Thursday’s budget vote in the Senate.
Flanked by reform advocates, hospitals administrators and doctors, Governor Hassan pressed lawmakers to take advantage of the federal government’s promise to pay 100% of the costs of expansion for the first three years.
She quoted New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, who supports expansion and says it will save money for taxpayers in his state.