Legislators give N.H. Medicaid expansion plan a green light
The joint fiscal committee approved New Hampshire’s planned application for expanding Medicaid yesterday. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must approve the proposal, which would extend insurance coverage to about 50,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.
In four votes split largely along party lines, the committee agreed to a plan developed by the state Department of Health and Human Services and Jeff Myers, director of intergovernmental affairs for Gov. Maggie Hassan.
The plan will use federal Medicaid money to buy private health coverage for adults making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit.
The coverage those plans are required to offer was modeled after the insurance plans sold on New Hampshire’s new insurance exchange, another provision of the Affordable Care Act.
In 2016, enrollees will be given federally funded subsidies to cover the cost of buying insurance on the marketplace.
The plan calls for enrollees who earn more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for a single adult) to pay $1 for generic prescriptions and $4 for brand-name drugs.
New enrollees will also have access to a substance use disorder benefit, a requirement for states seeking federal funding for the expansion. The federal government doesn’t require that all Medicaid programs offer the benefit, and New Hampshire has not, and will not for the foreseeable future, offer it to currently eligible people.
Myers and HHS Commissioner Nick Toumpas also submitted a letter affirming their commitment to seek federal permission to stop emergency room coverage for newly eligible Medicaid enrollees for nonemergency situations.
They promised in the letter to submit a proposal to the committee in 60 days.
Under the plan, the expansion would end if federal funding drops below 100 percent, and would end regardless at the end of 2016 if the Legislature doesn’t reauthorize it.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)