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Senate passes Medicaid expansion on bipartisan vote

CONCORD – With an 18-5 bipartisan vote, the Senate Thursday approved a plan to provide private insurance for the state's low-income adults paid for by Medicaid funds under the Affordable Care Act.

The vote, which garnered the support of all 11 Democrats and seven of 13 Republicans, came after several hours of debate and the rejection of three amendments that would have significantly changed the program proposed by senate leaders from both parties.

Senate Bill 413 uses the current managed-care Medicaid program, an existing program that pays the private health insurance premium for those on employer plans, and private insurance through the state's health insurance exchange to provide health insurance for an estimated 50,000 state residents.

Supporters said the bill would help those needing health care, providers and the state economy.'

But opponents argued it does little to protect taxpayers and will be unaffordable in coming years.

The bill is expected to be approved by the Democratic-controlled House by early April and sent to Gov. Maggie Hassan, who supports the bill.

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