New Hampshire Moves Closer to Agreement on Medicaid Expansion

Just hours before Gov. Maggie Hasan delivered her State of the State address yesterday, Senate leaders reached an agreement on Medicaid expansion.

New Hampshire held a special session in the fall of 2013 but was unable to reach an agreement to expand Medicaid, even after a Medicaid study group had recommended expansion. The House approved expansion but the Senate rejected it. 

Senate President Chuck Morse, a primary engineer of yesterday's agreement, says both parties accepted a plan yesterday to cover approximately 49,000 people through expanding private insurance coverage rather than enrolling them in traditional Medicaid. The proposal is similar to those worked out by Arkansas and Iowa, who will use federal money to buy private insurance for those newly eligible under the expansion. The bipartisan plan adopted by the NH Senate would end when the federal government’s coverage for Medicaid expansion drops below 100 percent unless the legislature agrees to extend it, according to AP reports.

In her address, Gov. Hasan said:

 "Moving forward with health care expansion is supported by hospitals, providers, businesses, and the people of New Hampshire. With today’s positive step forward, it’s clear that we can work through this together and help working people access critical health coverage. I thank members of both parties, from both the House and the Senate, for their steadfast commitment to reaching a compromise. Now, let’s get this done."

NPR radio in New Hampshire reported that the Medicaid announcement received some of the strongest applause of the speech.

What isn’t clear yet is how fast the expansion will happen. Both the House and Senate must approve the plan and then the federal government will need to issue its approval.

Currently 26 states and the District of Columbia are expanding Medicaid eligibility. The 100 percent federal match began Jan. 1, 2014 and will continue for three years. Then the match falls, eventually reaching 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.