Medicaid Expansion

The commission tasked with deciding if New Hampshire should expand its Medicaid program heard from a panel of experts Tuesday.

Speakers from the National Conference of State Legislatures and National Governors Association were in Concord to discuss options for Medicaid expansion, and to detail what other states are pursuing.

NHPR Health reporter Todd Bookman sits down with All Things Considered Host Brady Carlson to recap the hearing.

 

Todd Bookman / NHPR

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.

Special Medicaid Commission Gets To Work

Jul 8, 2013

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.”

The final four members have been named to the state's Medicaid Expansion study committee.

Quirk In Health Law Creates 'Coverage Canyon'

Jun 25, 2013
istock photo

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.

Medicaid Expansion Left Out Of Next State Budget

Jun 20, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

    

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.

New Hampshire can withdraw from an expanded Medicaid program at any time, according to a letter received Thursday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

The letter comes as legislative negotiators are poised to meet to finalize the state’s budget.

A point of impasse between the Democratically-held house and Republican-controlled Senate has been an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

 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.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

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.

The Muddle Over Medicaid

May 30, 2013

The Affordable Care Act encourages states to expand Medicaid coverage and provides funding to do so. So far, the tally is roughly even between states opting in and opting out, but some are still undecided, including New Hampshire.  Medicaid expansion has support from the House and Governor but the Senate has some serious doubts.

Guests

One of the biggest and most contentious issues of this spring’s budgeting process remains whether or not the state should expand Medicaid. When the Supreme Court ruled last summer on the Affordable Care Act, it said the Federal government can’t force states to expand. Instead, states must be given a choice about growing the health care program for the poor.

Governor Hassan and the Democratically controlled House favor expansion, and the House included it in its proposed spending plan.

GOP Budget Writers Vote Down Medicaid Expansion

May 22, 2013

Saying there’s simply too much uncertainty, top Senate budget writers voted 4-2 against expanding the state’s Medicaid program on Wednesday.

Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) says he has concerns the Federal government won’t be able to meets its promises to fund the expansion long-term.

And he says it’s unclear if the program would even improve care for the uninsured.

Bill To Ban Medicaid Expansion Voted Down

Mar 20, 2013

The New Hampshire House has killed a bill intended to block the state from expanding its Medicaid program.

Opponents of expansion argue that the state can’t afford to grow the health care program for the poor.

But Thomas Sherman, a doctor and Democrat from Rye, told lawmakers the issue is one of social responsibility.

Sherman: “These are New Hampshire people. Our constituents. These are your family, your neighbors, and my patients.”

Although the Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, it said states could choose whether to expand Medicaid. Supporters say doing so helps low income Americans gain coverage and boosts the economy. Critics warn it’s government overreach and is simply unaffordable. We’ll get New Hampshire’s take on this debate.

 Guests

Todd Bookman / NHPR

    The public had its chance today to weigh in on the state’s decision regarding Medicaid expansion.

Nearly two dozen people, all in favor of expansion, testified in front of a committee of state lawmakers.

That included Susan Bruce, who lost her husband, and then her health insurance in 2009. Her part-time job offers no coverage.  

Bruce: "It is an odd position to be in. I don’t make enough money to afford to live, really, but I make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it currently exists."

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