CONCORD — Upgrades for clients on Medicaid, restrictions on minors getting e-cigarettes and making it easier for nursing home residents to vote by absentee ballot were among a varied stack of bills Gov. Chris Sununu signed late last week.



The two-term governor, a Republican from Newfields, signed 39 bills last week while vetoing eight.

The total number of vetoes by Sununu in 2019, 38, is a modern-day record, according to veteran political observers.

Sununu highlighted two measures that make improvements to the state’s Medicaid program, the federal- and state-financed health insurance plan for the state’s low-income, disabled and senior citizens.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, authored a new mandate (SB 274) to allow those on Medicaid to get home visiting services for newborns and pregnant mothers.

“Home visitations help significantly reduce the negative long-term impacts on New Hampshire children exposed to issues such as substance abuse and mental health concerns,” Sununu said in a statement. “This legislation removes restrictions on New Hampshire’s Medicaid home visiting program to ensure that these critical services are available to all Medicaid eligible families.”

Another innovation creates a commission to craft a “value-based” dental care program for all Medicaid recipients that focuses on better outcomes at lower taxpayer costs. The measure includes preventative dental care. Previously, dental coverage for adults on Medicaid was limited to the treatment of infection and severe pain.

“For the first time in New Hampshire history, we are taking steps to create access to quality oral health care for adults with disabilities on Medicaid and other Medicaid recipients,” Sununu said. “Dental health is directly tied to overall physical health. This bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that Medicaid recipients can safeguard their smiles and their overall health.

• The question of whether the state will tax e-cigarettes is still subject to the stalemate over the state budget even though Sununu and both branches of the Legislature have endorsed that change.

But one policy shift on this topic is clear as Sununu signed a bill that places the same restrictions on minors’ access to e-cigarettes as currently exist with tobacco: Anyone younger than 18 can’t purchase or possess e-cigarettes or vaping liquids. This bill (HB 511) spells out the lone exception to that ban: A minor who has a registry card to obtain medical marijuana may obtain e-liquids that contain cannabis.

• Nursing home residents will have another method of delivering an absentee ballot to local election officials.

This signed bill (HB 531) will allow a caregiver not related to that voter to personally return the filled-out ballot. This reform limits to four the number of absentee ballots any caregiver could turn over for such residents in the same election.

• Another health insurance change (SB 272) gives the Department of Insurance the authority to enforce a federal law that makes health insurers give the same level of covered care for mental health and substance abuse care as they do for treatment of a medical condition.