New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid Program, which currently offers health insurance to 48,000 Granite Staters, has been extended for another two years.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Maggie Hassan officially signed the bill into law at the State House.
The room was packed as advocates and supporters came to watch the Governor sign the reauthorization legislation into law.
When it was the prime sponsor’s opportunity to speak, Rep. Joe LaChance raised his fists in the air in celebration and shouted, “We did it," which was followed by loud cheers.
If the program, which is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, was not re-authorized it would have expired at the end of this year.
Hassan said continuing this program is a positive step for New Hampshire.
“It’s clear that expansion is strengthening the health and financial security of our citizens and we know that reauthorization is also critical to our businesses, our economy and the ongoing battle with substance abuse,” Hassan said.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley touted the fact that the measure relies on no tax dollars but most importantly the program will continue to expand access to treatment for those battling addiction.
“It’s about people – it’s about the 6,000 people in the midst of a heroin crisis who have accessed the benefit that we all created in this room, everybody here, two years ago and but for that, how much worse would our heroin crisis be?” Bradley asked.
Under the measure, the state’s hospitals and insurance companies will cover the costs of the program that the federal government will no longer pay starting in 2017. Those opposed to the reauthorization worry this cost will ultimately fall on the backs of those who pay for insurance through higher premiums.
There’s still one uncertainty around the program. The reauthorization now requires program participants to work or volunteer in order to get coverage. But that clause needs to be approved by federal officials, which even advocates say appears unlikely.