Medicaid Expansion Agreement Announced Just in Time for New Hampshire Governor's State of the State

February 7, 2014

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The early afternoon announcement of a bipartisan Senate agreement on Medicaid expansion was perfect timing for Gov. Maggie Hassan, giving a boost to her push for expanding access to health care for 50,000 residents in her State of the State address yesterday.

“With today’s positive step forward, it’s clear that we can work through this together and help working people access critical health coverage,” said Hassan, a Democrat, thanking both parties for their commitment to the issue. “Now, let’s get this done.”

A group of six senators, led by Senate President Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, and Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat, has come up with a plan to use the federal Medicaid expansion money to help low-income people purchase private insurance. The Senate rules committee voted unanimously yesterday to allow Morse and Larsen to introduce this late legislation, and the Office of Legislative Services will now draft the bill. Republican Sens. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro and Bob Odell of Lempster and Democrats Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester and Peggy Gilmour of Hollis have also given their support to the bill.

After Hassan’s speech, Larsen said senators have been working to come up with a plan that both parties could accept since Medicaid expansion failed to pass the Legislature in November’s special session.

“We did not – could not – accept the failure and just sit down and say, ‘Well, we give up,’ ” Larsen said.

Even in November, both parties said they wanted to expand Medicaid through private insurance, but they differed over the timeline. Democrats wanted to wait until more than one company was selling plans on the new federal exchange; Republicans set an earlier deadline.

In a statement, Morse also expressed confidence that the new agreement can draw the support needed from both parties to succeed.

“As a result of those productive conversations, we have agreed to a framework for legislation that we believe represents a truly bipartisan compromise, and accomplishes our shared goals of increasing access to private insurance coverage while protecting New Hampshire taxpayers,” he said.

Members of the House and Hassan have also been briefed on the agreement. In her address, Hassan said this could give 50,000 people access to health care.

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