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Fiscal Committee OK's Medicaid waiver to get matching funds

CONCORD — Lawmakers would like the federal government to provide $275 million over five years to help pay for medical services provided by the state, counties and municipalities.

The waiver request, which is required as part of the Medicaid expansion program of the NH Health Protection Program, seeks federal matching funds for about $80 million a year in health-care services the state, counties and local governments currently provide and would have to continue to provide under the five-year period.

The new federal money would be used to reform the state’s Medicaid program by bumping up Medicaid rates paid to hospitals and community mental health centers, enhancing the state’s mental health system, instituting substance abuse treatment and an oral-health program.
Thursday the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee approved the waiver request, which will be submitted to the Center for Medicaid Services on Friday.

After a public comment period, the center and the state will begin negotiations over the plan, said Jeffrey Meyers, director of intergovernmental affairs for the Health and Human Services Department.In order to receive federal approval, the state has to show that the federal government would pay more than it would match the local programs dollar for dollar.
Under the waiver, about $68 million will be available over the five years for health care providers to apply for the innovative pilot program.



Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, was concerned the new substance abuse treatment program could be more than existing providers can handle, and they may need additional help.Meyers assured her the waiver addresses her concerns.
“We want to strengthen the capacity in New Hampshire so that there is more than adequate capacity,” Meyers said.

The proposal has been pushed by hospitals for the last few years.Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, asked Meyers and Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas if the hospitals had approached the department during the state comment period. They said the hospitals had not.

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