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October 29. 2012 7:56PM

Findings of Medicaid study for NH to be released on Friday

CONCORD — The first phase of an independent study of the state's options to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act will be released this week.

The state Department of Health and Human Services hired an independent firm to look at the state's options after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states could not be forced to expand the Medicaid program to include individuals with incomes under 138-percent of the poverty level.

Critics of the law claim the expansion will eventually cost states a great deal of money although the federal government will initially pick up 100 percent of the costs.

House Speaker William O'Brien has worked to block the expansion, while others believe the expansion will help more state residents obtain health insurance.

Under the ACA, hospitals will lose federal subsidies for treating those who cannot or do not pay for their medical services.

“I feel strongly it is the department's responsibility to be able to provide the data and facts to those who will ultimately decide whether the state should expand its Medicaid program,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “We asked and received support from legislators to allow us the time to have an independent analysis conducted so that the pros and cons of the expansion can be understood. We want to make sure this information is available to the Legislature for their discussion in the upcoming 2013 Legislative session.”

DHHS worked with the Lewin Group, a national health policy and human services consulting firm, to conduct the analysis, which provides estimates on the number of eligible residents for expanded coverage and associated the cost.

The second phase of the study is expected to be completed by year's end and address the impact on the state economy, state budget and commercial insurance market.

Lewin Group researchers will be at the briefing, which will be held Friday at 10 a.m. in the Brown Building, 129 Pleasant St., Concord.

The briefing is open to the public.

grayno@unionleader.com


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