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Medicaid Expansion Clears Committee; Heads to State Senate Floor

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After a lengthy debate, the Senate's Finance Committee on Monday backed a bill re-authorizing New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion program for another two years. 
The bill was the same piece of legislationthe House overwhelming approved earlier this March. 

Under the proposal, adults in the state's Medicaid expansion program must work or volunteer at least 30 hours a week to receive benefits. 

Related: HB1696 is broken down in our recent primer on Medicaid expansion.

Other states have requested similar requirements, but none have been approved by federal officials.

The debate before lawmakers Monday revolved around whether to keep a clause in the measurethat would ensure the  program continues -- even if the federal government rejects the proposal’s work requirements.

Senate Finance Chair Jeanie Forrester, who proposed an amendment to strip this clause out, says these requirements would put “skin in the game” for enrollees - something her constituents are asking for.   

“I think this is really important for New Hampshire to take a stand on this and say this is what we want,” Forrester said before her amendment was rejected. 

Sen. Jeb Bradley, like many of his Republican colleagues, supports the work requirements but says the program, which has saved state dollars and put 48,000 people on health care, isn't worth losing if the feds reject these requirements. 

“Without this severability clause we are at the whim of the federal government to approve something that they have never approved for any other state. I just don’t see how we will let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Bradley told lawmakers Monday. 

The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure this Thursday.

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