Cloudy
61°
Cloudy
Hi 73° | Lo 55°

Hassan’s office: No number yet on federal funds for Medicaid expansion

  • Governor Hassan's budget director Gerard Murphy waits to speak on the budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Governor Hassan's budget director Gerard Murphy waits to speak on the budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Representative Alfred Lerandeau of Swanzey (center) listens to Governor Maggie Hassan discuss her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Representative Alfred Lerandeau of Swanzey (center) listens to Governor Maggie Hassan discuss her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Governor Hassan's budget director Gerard Murphy waits to speak on the budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Representative Alfred Lerandeau of Swanzey (center) listens to Governor Maggie Hassan discuss her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith listens as Governor Maggie Hassan discusses her budget plan with a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare (second from left) asks Governor Maggie Hassan for more details on her budget plan during a joint session of the House Budget Finance and the Senate Finance Committee in the Legislative Office Building in Concord; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office said yesterday it doesn’t yet know how much federal money the state will get to expand the Medicaid program, a major component of the state budget unveiled by the Democrat last week.

“At this point we do not have those dollar figures,” Gerard Murphy, Hassan’s budget director, told members of the House Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee. “We are still working on coming up with the final projections and what the federal funds associated with those enrollees will entail.”

Murphy and Hassan appeared yesterday morning before the two budget-writing panels to discuss the budget proposal Hassan presented to the Legislature on Thursday. Her budget proposes $11.1 billion in total state spending over the next two years, an increase of 10.2 percent from the current biennium, and includes general-fund spending of $2.8 billion, a 7.1 percent increase.

Expanding Medicaid to new participants is part of Hassan’s budget, though the federal funding wasn’t included in last week’s draft. Under President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law, she said, 100 percent of the expansion cost will be covered by federal money for the first three years, and the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the bill in subsequent years.

In her budget, Hassan also proposed an increase in the cigarette tax and expanded gambling (in the form of a single casino) to help pay for increased state aid to hospitals for uncompensated care and increased spending on mental health services and public colleges and universities.

The inclusion of $80 million in casino-licensing revenue is a controversial part of Hassan’s budget: Republicans have called it risky to rely on that money, in part because past proposals for casino gambling have failed to pass the House.

Rep. Robert Elliott, a Salem Republican, said yesterday he supports casino gambling, but he asked Hassan if she has prepared any alternative plan for filling the $80 million gap if the House rejects the idea.

Hassan didn’t directly answer his question.

“I think the job of the governor in presenting her budget is to make the very best recommendation she can make to the people of New Hampshire and to the Legislature about how we can meet our priorities and move our state forward and make sure we’re seizing an innovation economy and leading in it,” she said, “and the budget I presented to you, including the revenues from the licensing of one high-end, highly regulated casino, is my best recommendation based on all the alternatives that I’ve seen.”

Hassan’s budget also changes the Medicaid Enhancement Tax to send more money to hospitals for uncompensated care expenses, in turn reducing the amount of money sent to the state’s general fund.

Rep. Dan McGuire, an Epsom Republican, asked Hassan why the state should be funding private, nonprofit hospitals.

“When charities such as Red Cross or Salvation Army do their charitable work, they don’t expect the general taxpayer to cover them,” McGuire said.

Hassan replied that New Hampshire, unlike some other states, has no public hospitals.

“We have had a long relationship with the hospitals in this state to provide an essential public function. . . . Our people need access to health care, and we need to make sure that we have a health care system that can provide affordable, accessible care,” she said.

Several times yesterday, Hassan – a former
three-term state senator – told the budget-writing legislators that she’s eager to work with them to craft the budget.

“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work with
you, because we have the opportunity and the capacity to build a bright economic
future for our people,” she said.

The House Finance Committee will now begin its work and the budget is expected to go to the House floor for a vote by April 4, then on to the Senate. Democrats control the House, while Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate.

The next biennium begins July 1.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.