Medicaid Expansion

New Hampshire Public Radio / Flickr Creative Commons

You would think that the commissioner of the state’s largest agency has one of the biggest to-do lists of the year, and for Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas, you’re probably right. A new year brings new challenges for Toumpas: with Medicaid, there’s the implementation of its managed care program, as well as the continuing debate over its expansion.

NHPR Staff

Lawmakers returned to Concord Wednesday, and House Democrats wasted no time passing a bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Their latest Medicaid plan, which was tacked onto a different bill they’d planned to kill, would send some newly eligible recipients into the exchange for coverage, but not until 2017.  

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.

NHPR

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."

Gov. Maggie Hassan has spent the last several days taking her push to expand Medicaid out side of Concord, and into the districts of GOP Senators.

Speaking at SNHU, in the home district of Republican David Boutin, Hassan said the GOP needs to bend.

"Every time we put forward a compromise, we are told that it’s no good, it’s still their original plan."

Back at the statehouse, Senate President Chuck Morse insisted that’s not true.

"We are open to suggestions.'

Parties Continue To Negotiate On Medicaid Expansion

Nov 14, 2013

House and Senate leaders continue to debate an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to more low-income New Hampshire residents.

A key difference between the two sides is how quickly New Hampshire moves an estimated 35,000 individuals from Medicaid into the exchange to obtain private insurance.  

House leaders and the Governor say the GOP’s plan to shift people in 2015 won’t work. Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, are defending their proposal.

Chris Jensen, NHPR News

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.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

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.

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

  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.

Conservative activists are warning lawmakers that an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program would lead to a fiscal crisis in New Hampshire.

Passive Income Dream.com / Flickr Creative Commons

The special commission that debated New Hampshire options all summer has made its report.  Two members of that commission talk with us about what happened, why, and where we go from here.

GUESTS:

  • Cindy Rosenwald – five-term Democratic representative from Nashua and a member of the finance committee
  • Charlie Arlinghaus -  president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank based in Concord.
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Brushing up against its October 15th deadline, on Tuesday a special commission studying a possible expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire finalized its recommendations.

This was the final meeting of a nine-member group that spent the summer debating if and how to expand Medicaid to more low income residents.

While the issue still proves divisive, the commission did find common ground accepting the contents of the final report, voting unanimously to send it to the Governor and legislative leaders.

Medicaid Expansion Plan Approved By Commission

Oct 8, 2013

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.

Members of the special commission studying whether to expand Medicaid in New Hampshire continue to hash out their differences in the face of a looming deadline.

    

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.

As a study commission nears its deadline to issue its findings on whether to expand Medicaid, Governor Maggie Hassan is urging lawmakers to take swift action once that report is released.

Speaking to members of the Nashua Rotary West Club on Tuesday, Hassan, who supports expansion, says the state can’t afford to wait.

“For every day that we delay expansion beyond Jan. 1, even conservative projections show that New Hampshire stands to lose $500,000 per day in the first year, and up to $1 million per day by 2016.”

Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a Republican-backed alternative plan to Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire. 

Todd Bookman / NHPR

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.

Guest:

- 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. 

Guests

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 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.

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