Private insurance seen as key to draft plan for Medicaid expansion in NH
Under the provision approved on an 8-1 vote, lawmakers meeting in special session this fall would direct state health officials to apply for the waiver allowing the state to expand the Health Insurance Premium Payment program, which pays premiums for those on their employers’ health plans.
“I do believe the Legislature can get to yes on expanding health insurance coverage in some form,” Stiles said, “and I’m encouraged by the commission’s openness to the use of private insurance to cover some of those who will become newly eligible under such an expansion.”
Convincing the Republican-controlled Senate — which blocked expansion through the budget process last spring — is crucial to expansion as both Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Democratically controlled House support expanding eligibility.
“I was pleased the commission expressed support for providing access to private insurance for low-income New Hampshire citizens as a means of reducing the number of uninsured in our state,” Morse said. “That provision is a good starting point toward finding common ground, and I look forward to the beginning of the legislative process that will hopefully bring us full-circle to a bi-partisan New Hampshire solution.”
Worries about cost
The commission has expressed concerns the state may not be able to afford expansion if program costs exceed estimates, or if the federal government reneges on its financial commitment or increases benefits, but failed to agree on how the state should extricate itself from the program if any of those occur. The commission did agree to a six-month window for the legislature to reauthorize expansion if federal support decreases, allowing the state to withdraw from expansion.
But opponents of the triggers noted with the federal government paying 100 percent of the cost for the newly eligible people, the state will have several years of information to review and then decide how to adjust the program before the state has to begin contributing.
Oct. 15 deadline
Last week the committee agreed expansion should include adults below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Members also agreed those eligible for Medicaid with employer-supplied health insurance must participate in the Health Insurance Premium Payment program.
“Chasing unicorns is what so much of this report is to many of us,” said Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who opposed the plan and has been a vocal critic of expansion.
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