Another State Prepped to Move Forward With Medicaid Expansion

Split government reaches elusive bipartisan deal.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Deborah Dion (L), Hattie Coleman and other protesters gather in the office of Florida State Rep. Manny Diaz as they protest his stance against the expansion of healthcare coverage on September 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. As the protest took place, the Republican led House in Washington, D.C. by a 230-189 tally passed a short-term government spending plan that would eliminate all funding for 'Obamacare.' The Florida State government is also working against the Affordable Care Act by refusing to set up its own health care exchanges and they also have highlighted concerns about the navigators, federally funded workers who will help enroll people in health plans. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Feb. 6, 2014, 10:40 a.m.

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.

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