Granite Staters Rally for Medicaid Expansion
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire needs to reauthorize its Medicaid expansion; that's the message being delivered by hundreds gathered on the State House lawn today.
Without reauthorization, the program that has helped more than 50,000 Granite Staters get health insurance will expire at the end of this year. According to Michele Merritt, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group New Futures, Senate Bill 313 has strong, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
"There's been consistent, strong votes in support of reauthorization of this program," she said, "acknowledging how important it is for the people of this state."
Merritt said Gov. Chris Sununu's office has been supportive throughout the crafting of the reauthorization bill, and added that she is confident he will sign it when it reaches his desk. She pointed out that the Medicaid expansion has been critical to the effort to combat the opioid epidemic, helping almost 13,000 people access addiction treatment coverage.
"If this program were not reauthorized, all of those individuals would lose their coverage," she said, "and it would have catastrophic impacts in the state of New Hampshire related to our opiate crisis."
Like the current version of the Medicaid expansion, SB 313 has work and community engagement requirements, but there have been some changes in that provision.
Merritt said the new bill clarifies exemptions to those requirements, such as having difficulty finding child care or engaging in qualifying activities.
"The previous piece of legislation didn't have some of these specifics," she said, "that volunteer work, for example would qualify as a community engagement activity."
She noted that New Hampshire elected officials have been supportive on the federal level as well by opposing efforts to weaken or repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The text of SB 313 is online at legiscan.com.