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Hassan's secret: Covering up Medicaid problems

EDITORIAL
August 19. 2017 10:48PM

GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN 

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) warned the Hassan administration that New Hampshire's expanded Medicaid program was not complying with federal law.

This was rather inconvenient for Hassan, who made the subsidized health insurance program the central plank in her campaign for the U.S. Senate.

To be fair to Hassan, she never wanted to have hospitals cover the non-federal share of expanded Medicaid benefits for able-bodied adults. She wanted to put New Hampshire taxpayers on the hook. But she did take credit for the final bill.

Hassan had a responsibility to make the problem public, so that the Legislature could work on a way to fix it. She kept quiet.

Hassan tapped a New York law firm to persuade CMS that the provider payments were legal. The Obama administration backed down until after Obama was out of office, and Hassan was in the Senate.

But in May, Gov. Chris Sununu received a call from CMS, asking about the disputed providers payments. He says that was the first he heard about the problem. He has convinced CMS to give New Hampshire until the end of 2018 to address the issue, which is when the program is already set to expire.

Hassan says State House Republicans knew about the threat. But Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley says that's just not so. They knew the provider payments might be questioned, but not that CMS was coming after New Hampshire.

Hassan kept her secret, and it worked. She narrowly won her Senate race, and won't have to face New Hampshire voters for another five years.

Hopefully by then, Sununu and the Legislature will have fixed all the problems she left behind.


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