EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 26, 2014

N.H. OKs Medicaid expansion

Salem Republican votes with majority

CONCORD (AP) — New Hampshire’s House voted yesterday to expand Medicaid programs to cover an estimated 50,000 poor adults eligible for federal subsidies under the federal health care overhaul law.

The House voted, 202-132, to send a bipartisan Senate plan to the governor that uses federal Medicaid funds to buy private health coverage for adults making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, about $15,856 a year for a single adult.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan said she looks forward to signing the bill, which could be as soon as this week.

“This bipartisan plan is a uniquely New Hampshire solution and it exemplifies New Hampshire’s tradition of collective problem-solving, demonstrating what is possible when we remain focused on solutions and reach across the aisle to achieve progress for our people,” Hassan said in a statement.

New Hampshire is one of six states that had not decided whether to expand Medicaid under the federal law.

The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote, but most House Republicans voted against it. The Democratic-led House rejected nine Republican amendments, including ones to cap the program and block its implementation until federal permission is received to spend Medicaid money on private health coverage.

The program is projected to cost $340 million a year when fully implemented and would use 100 percent federal funding through 2017 to expand the health care coverage. Adults up to age 65 could qualify, and supporters said the bill would improve the health of currently uninsured residents by providing access to affordable preventive and primary care. They said that would reduce the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, which could help drive down premium costs and help struggling businesses.

Rep. Robert Elliott of Salem, one of the few Republicans to support the bill, said providing health coverage to the poor was the right thing to do and chided Republicans who opposed it.

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