Committee OKs expanding state Medicaid eligibility
The committee studying Medicaid expansion rejected a proposal by Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, on a 5-3 vote, to not expand the program unless the state receives a waiver from the Center for Medicaid Services to allow it to use a program that would use Medicaid funds to pay the premium for those eligible under expansion who are currently on their employers’ health plans.
In arguing to end expansion if costs exceed estimates by more than 20 percent, Kurk said the state could not afford the program.
The committee did agree on several key elements of what would be the state’s expansion plan that lawmakers will have to approve either at a special session or at the beginning of the next year.
The nine members were almost unanimous in agreeing the state would mandate those eligible for Medicaid with employer-supplied health insurance to participate in the Health Insurance Premium Payment program, which pays the premium and the costs of required services not in the private coverage.
The commission also agreed to a provision to allow those between 100 to 138 percent of the poverty level to purchase policies through the health insurance exchange paid for by Medicaid funds. The program would be voluntary so the state would not need a waiver.
The commission also agreed the benefits under expansion should be the 10 essential services that must be offered in all plans sold on the exchange as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment coverage, which is required under the ACA.
Sherman’s proposal would begin the program Jan. 1, but if the state did not receive the necessary waiver, it would end Aug. 1 unless lawmakers voted to continue participation.
If New Hampshire decides to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, state health and human service officials say that will add 49,000 people to the program over the next seven-and-a-half years, while the federal government will pay $2.4 billion to health care providers. The state is expected to spend about $18 million for expansion over the period.
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