New Hampshire appears ready to break its impasse over Medicaid expansion.
Members of the state Senate announced the framework on Thursday for a bipartisan deal to expand coverage to about 50,000 New Hampshire residents, according to the Associated Press.
The agreement is the result of ongoing negotiations, and will be introduced as legislation next week, following unanimous approval by the Senate Rules Committee.
The deal, sponsored by Republican Senate President Chuck Morse and Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, would use the federal Medicaid dollars available under the Affordable Care Act to fund private insurance coverage on the exchanges. The private option plan would require a waiver from the federal government.
Like most states, support for expansion falls along party lines.
Attempts to reach agreement were unsuccessful during a special legislative session in November. The Democratic-led New Hampshire House passed a Medicaid expansion deal Jan. 8, but it has not moved past the Republican-led Senate.
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has been a vocal supporter of Medicaid expansion in the state, and Senate negotiators expect she will support the agreement.
“I thank the House for moving quickly on this opportunity to provide health coverage for hard-working Granite Staters,” she said in a statement in January, following passage in the House. “By not moving forward with Medicaid expansion, the state of New Hampshire has already lost nearly $4 million in federal funds this year, and for every day that we continue to delay, we will lose at least another half a million federal dollars that we can never recover and thousands of working families continue to go without the health coverage they need.”
Under the ACA, the federal government would cover 100 percent of the cost of expansion for the first three years, and 90 percent following. Thursday’s agreement would require the Legislature to approve continuing the program beyond the first three years.
If the legislation is approved, New Hampshire would join 26 states plus the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid.