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New Session, New Medicaid Expansion Debate In Concord

N.H. State House
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Lawmakers returned to Concord Wednesday, and House Democrats wasted no time passing a bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Their latest Medicaid plan, which was tacked onto a different bill they’d planned to kill, would send some newly eligible recipients into the exchange for coverage, but not until 2017.  

Nashua Democrat Cindy Rosenwald told colleagues the overall plan will improve health outcomes and bring financial security to 50,000 of the state’s low-income residents. And she said every day without expansion costs the state more than a half-million-dollars in federal money.

“The clock is ticking," said Rosenwald. "And if we don’t act to bring this money back home, we will lose it.”

Republicans including John Hunt of Rindge spoke out against the political maneuvering.

“This amendment has had no hearing, will not have a hearing, and it totally inappropriate for us to be taking up at this time,” said Hunt.

The bill passed without a single GOP vote. It now heads to the Republican-held Senate, where leaders prefer all new recipients pick up coverage through the exchange, and begin doing so within a year.

They say they’ll take a more deliberate path, too, allowing for a public hearing on the matter.

Governor Hassan, a strong backer of expansion, says she’s willing to work toward a compromise.

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