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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Common ground eyed on Medicaid expansion
The Commission to Study Expansion of Medicaid Eligibility had more agreement on a conceptual plan than many observers anticipated, and Senate President Chuck Morse signaled he is willing to work with Gov. Maggie Hassan on an expansion as long as it includes private insurance coverage among the alternatives.
"We want to make sure we look at the whole universe and talk about it,'' Morse said, "but I would like to see them on private insurance.''
The commission had general agreement on a proposal from Rep. Thomas Sherman, D-Rye, to cover adults whose income is up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; use private insurers to cover some of that population through employers' existing health plans or through the state's health insurance marketplace; and provide benefits equal to what is required under Medicaid plus mental health and substance abuse treatment services.
Hassan is now free to try to convince a couple of the Republican senators that expansion is in their best interest. With a 13-11 Republican-Democrat split, one Republican would not do and two would be like putting a bull's-eye on their backs for a primary. Get three or four, however, and things would become a lot safer.
NEW BILLS: House members had until last Friday to file bills for the 2014 session, and when the dust settled, nearly 600 requests had been sought. More will come when study committees finish their work.
Recent events drove some requests. For example, Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover, and Rep. John Cloutier, D-Claremont, want Anthem to include more hospitals in its provider network, including Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, though it is not identified directly.
In the last fiscal year, the state distributed more than $23 million in assistance through the EBT card, with 78 percent taken as cash through ATMs.
Many Concord residents were upset when the police chief sought to use a federal grant to purchase a BearCat armored police vehicle, and Rep. J.R. Hoell of Dunbarton has introduced a bill to prohibit the state and local communities from using federal funds to purchase "military-style vehicles.'' There will be bills dealing with casino gambling from two Manchester representatives, Pat Long and Steve Vaillancourt, and attempts to decriminalize possession of small amounts or marijuana, two topics that were either killed last session or held for more study.
There will also be attempts to prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving and to allow "liquid cremation,'' both issues lawmakers have dealt with in the past, as well as a bill that would allow "death with dignity,'' or assisted suicide, for the terminally ill.
Senate President Morse will receive the 2013 Libertas Award for his commitment to fiscal discipline and open government.
The dinner will be held at the Grappone Center in Concord. For more information, go to www.jbartlett.org
NO QUESTIONS: The Legislative Ethic Committee recently advised lawmakers invited to the Business and Industry Association's annual dinner Oct. 23 they could go even though the value of a free ticket is $125, well in excess of the $25 gift limit.
The BIA organization is a formidable lobbying organization, but so is the NH Auto Dealers Association, which won as big a victory as any special interest group this past session with the Auto Dealers Bill of Rights.
He served as an education adviser at the time to newly elected Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and was critical in helping her work with the Legislature to craft an answer to the Claremont II decision, which said the state used an unconstitutional funding method to pay for education.
He was also a delight to work with and as well-informed on education issues as any legislator at the time, having served on the Newfound Regional School Board, many years as its chairman.
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Market Basket: Analysts point to debt
Poll: Brown makes gains on Sen. Shaheen