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New Report Seen as “Big Bang for Your Buck”

September 27, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. - New figures were released today on the potential cost and benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act in the Granite State.

Deborah Fournier, a New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute policy analyst, says the state's cost for expanding Medicaid is likely to be offset by significant savings in other areas of the state budget. She says the institute's new report pegs the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage at less than $130 million during the next seven years, with the federal government contributing $1 billion toward the effort.

"The cost to the state would be 2 percent more than what it's going to spend in Medicaid over those seven years in any event, for insuring 25 percent more people."

Opponents have expressed concerns about the cost, given that Medicaid has grown to be a large part of the state budget. Fournier says policymakers should look at the benefits as well as the cost of extending Medicaid coverage, because it would extend health coverage to as many as 36,000 New Hampshire residents.

Fournier says the report shows the state will see major savings in what it currently spends on charity care, if more folks in New Hampshire have health coverage.

"There's a savings range between $85 million (and) $171 million over seven years. If the savings around charity care are at the upper range, that would more than completely offset the cost of the Medicaid expansion."

Fournier says the expansion would help hourly workers who make less than $15,000 a year: People in low-wage jobs such as food service and child care.

"A big bang for your buck. You spend little more, and you get to cover a lot more people; and the benefits of covering those other people extend to other savings in the budget - as well as the obvious benefit of health insurance for a lot folks who currently cannot get it."

The Obama administration has set no deadline, but New Hampshire policymakers are expected to decide soon whether to opt in or out of the Medicaid expansion.

The full report is online at nhfpi.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH