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Committee OK's Medicaid Expansion; Bill Now Moves To House Floor

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A key House committee voted to support reauthorization of the state’s Medicaid expansion program for another two years. Under the bill, the state's insurance premium tax, along with hospitals and insurance companies, will have to cover the costs of the program that will no longer be paid for by federal dollars next year. For hospitals and insurers alone, that comes to about $24 million each year, starting in 2017.

The bill passed the House Finance Committee, 18 to 8, but not without a few changes. 

One puts the administrative costs of the program on the backs of hospitals and insurance companies, rather than relying on state dollars. That works out to roughly $1.5 million per year.

Another change ensures that if federal financial support for the program declines, the program will shut down within 180 days.

The vote split the Republican members of the committee, with those against it arguing it would drive up costs for those who pay for insurance. House Finance Chair Neal Kurk, a Republican from Weare, opposed the program as a whole. 

“I don’t believe expanded Medicaid is a desirable entitlement, and I think it discourages people from working,” he said.

But House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, a Republican from Merrimack, argued the Medicaid expansion program works. 

“I don’t have knowledge of any other plan to take care of the 48,000 people who are currently on the program,” Hinch said after the vote.

The full House will vote on the measure on Wednesday. 

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