State House live: House passes new attempt at Medicaid expansion
3:30 p.m.: The New Hampshire House has passed another attempt at Medicaid expansion.
The Democratic-led House attached a Medicaid expansion amendment to another bill this afternoon, over criticisms from House Republicans that the effort was too rushed. The bill passed, 182-154.
It will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to gain support.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley released a statement criticizing the House action to "fast-track" the bill.
"Should the Senate reach a compromise New Hampshire solution on this issue, it will move through the usual legislative process as a Senate bill with a public hearing and adequate time for open debate," said Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican.
Rep. Tom Sherman a Rye Democrat, offered the amendment to the House bill today. It is slightly different from the version passed in the House in November.
Authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act, the bill would use federal funding to expand Medicaid to about 50,000 low-income adults.
Sherman, a doctor, addressed criticisms about Medicaid expansion and said New Hampshire is prepared to provide quality Medicaid coverage.
"I really hope that we're not reacting to what we think might happen out of fear, but that we are looking at our own experience and the experience of our dear friends, the experience of our neighbors, and saying we can do better," Sherman said.
Rep. George Lambert, a Litchfield Republican, challenged the amendment and said it required additional public hearings. His challenge was easily defeated.
Other Republicans spoke against the content of the bill.
"Our deep concern of the well-being of our state goes well beyond philosophy and has more to do with the real long-term negative consequences of this policy," said Rep. Laurie Sanborn, a Bedford Republican. "There are no real financial safeguards to the state and its taxpayers."
The amendment introduced today would have allowed individuals who fall below 100 percent of the federal poverty level to receive coverage under the state's existing managed Medicaid program. Newly eligible adults with earnings between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be offered coverage until 2017, when they would use federal funds to purchase private insurance through the federal health care exchange.
A different Medicaid expansion bill tabled by the Senate in November would not have added any newly eligible individuals into the existing Medicaid program. Instead, they would use federal funds to purchase insurance on the federal marketplace, after the federal government approved necessary waivers.
1:30 p.m.: The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would increase the age when a juvenile can be criminally charged as an adult from 17 to 18.
The measure passed without debate, 324-17. The bill will now go to the House Finance Committee for additional consideration.
New Hampshire is one of nine states that have not increased the age threshold. If the state does not raise the age, the state’s counties will have to create separate jail space for juveniles age 17 and younger who are charged as adult because of a change in federal law, Rep. Mary Beth Walz, a Bow Democrat, told House members.
1:17 p.m.: House members returned from the lunch break about 1 p.m. and acted on a number of 2013 bills, including those dealing with deer baiting, sentence reductions for inmates, and push polling. All were passed on a voice vote.
The House is expected to take up a proposal to expand Medicaid later this afternoon.
Below are some of the 2013 bills the House acted on after lunch without debate:
∎ The state Fish and Game Department is a step closer to being allowed to sell Hike Safe cards to raise money for the department’s search and rescue missions.
Purchasing the $25 card, which would provide safe hiking tips, would be optional for hikers, not mandatory.
∎ A bill allowing inmates to reduce their sentences by pursuing education behind bars passed easily. Inmates could be eligible for a 90-day reduction if they earned a GED, a 120-day reduction for getting a high school diploma and a 180-day reduction for getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
∎ House members defeated a bill that would have created a new position to prosecute internet crimes against children. A House committee lauded the intentions of the bill’s sponsors but concluded the state had no way to pay for the position.
∎ A bill defining push-polling passed. A push-poll for a major race must involve at least 2,000 connected calls that last less than two minutes. The threshold for lesser races, such as state representatives, is 500 or 200, depending on the race.
∎ As it has in the past, the House again voted against allowing deer-baiting in New Hampshire.
11:15 a.m.: The New Hampshire House began its 2014 session this morning failing to override Gov. Maggie Hassan’s veto of three 2013 bills dealing with absentee ballots, end-of-life decisions and economic development advisory council.
The first vetoed bill would have let poll workers at each voting location decide when to start counting ballots. The override failed 176-163, meaning that ballots will continue to be counted at 1 p.m. A veto override requires a two-thirds majority.
The second vetoed bill would have created a committee to study end-of-life decisions. That override failed 124-218.
The third vetoed bill would have reduced the membership of the economic development advisory council. Members removed would have included a member of the governor’s office and representatives of a chamber of commerce, a workforce organizer and real estate development.
The bill’s sponsor argued many of the members did not attend meetings. The override failed 165-175.
Continue to check back with the Monitor for more updates.
New Hampshire lawmakers convene at 10 this morning for the first day of the 2014 legislative session, and it figures to be busy.
The day’s agenda includes deciding whether to override three vetoes by Gov. Maggie Hassan, whether to expand Medicaid coverage, whether to treat 17-year-olds as juveniles instead of adults when charged with crimes and more.
We will update this story throughout the day as the news unfolds.