Sununu: GOP agenda for 2018 includes Medicaid expansion
By DAVE SOLOMON State House Bureau
Gov. Chris Sununu (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER FILE PHOTO)
CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu pledged to renew Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire in some fashion, as he led a delegation of Republican lawmakers in presenting the GOP majority’s legislative priorities for 2018 at a State House news conference on Tuesday.
“We will have a New Hampshire Medicaid plan,” he said. “At the moment we have slightly different ideas on how to get there, but the people of New Hampshire sent us here to get results, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
New Hampshire is one of 33 states that opted to expand eligibility for Medicaid to embrace a larger portion of the population through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Each vote to expand Medicaid in recent years has had a sunset date, and the current authorization expires at the end of 2018.
Some Republicans in the Legislature have opposed the expansion from the beginning and would like to see the program come to an end.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion, including many Republicans, have argued that 50,000 previously uninsured New Hampshire residents acquired health insurance through the program, helping the state combat the opioid abuse crisis and better serving an aging population.
A bipartisan commission appointed to study the issue over the summer, led by Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, recommended that the program be continued but left many of the details to lawmakers.
While a Medicaid expansion bill or amendment has yet to be presented, there were several other initiatives that Sununu said will get the backing of GOP leaders in the weeks ahead, including bills that would temporarily reduce the real estate transfer tax for first-time home buyers, set tougher standards for PFCs in drinking water and offer property tax exemptions to charter schools.
The governor and GOP leadership also want to make it easier to get occupational licenses in fields ranging from athletic trainer to well pump installer, with a bill to create an agency with oversight of occupational licensing, now handled by a variety of state boards, commissions and departments.
Sununu also stressed that reform initiatives in mental health, child protection and foster care, launched last year, will continue in 2018.
The battle against the opioid crisis also continues with several bills, including one that would establish a tax credit for businesses that create a “recovery friendly workplace,” which now exists only as a legislative service request (LSR 2888).