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Editorial: Just call us ‘The Donor State’

Senate President Peter Bragdon and his fellow Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, Sens. Bob Odell of Lempster, Jeanie Forrester of Meredith and Chuck Morse of Salem, want to make New Hampshire “The Donor State.” The full Senate should tell them no thanks.

New Hampshire residents traditionally get a smaller percentage of their federal tax payments back in funds from the federal government than residents in almost every other state. One recent analysis put New Hampshire fourth from the bottom, behind Connecticut, New Jersey and Nevada, at just 71 cents on the dollar. If New Hampshire refuses to accept federal money under the Affordable Care Act, it will almost certainly move to dead last and become the state that pays the most but gets the least for its money. Those three states all plan to accept federal money to expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults, albeit grudgingly on the part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch opponent of Obamacare.

Listen, Sens. Bragdon, Odell, Forrester and Morse, to Christie, as he explained his decision:

“Accepting these federal resources will provide health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income New Jerseyans, help keep our hospitals financially healthy and actually save money for New Jersey taxpayers. Expanding Medicaid is the smart thing to do for our fiscal and public health,” Christie said at a press conference in February. New Jersey expects to save $227 million by expanding Medicaid access.

On a smaller scale, the same thing would happen here, which is why Gov. Maggie Hassan, the House, the state hospital association, Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas, advocates for the poor and countless others support the expansion.

Bragdon and his fellow Republicans instead want to spend $200,000 to create a commission to study the impact on the state of expanding Medicaid. But no commission will be able to give the opponents the assurance they want: that no future president or Congress will vote to reduce the federal government’s 90 percent share of the cost of the expansion. But in the unlikely event that happens, the law allows New Hampshire, or any other state, to opt out of the program.

The opponents also want to see hard evidence that expanding Medicaid will improve health-care outcomes and save money. Logic, and lots of health care experts, including the consultants hired to provide an analysis of the expansion’s effects, say savings will occur, particularly if patients receive care that keeps them out of emergency rooms. But achieving savings from prevention could take years.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire will lose
$2.5 billion in federal funds in the next seven years alone. An estimated 22,300 people will go without coverage, the cost of caring for the uninsured will continue to be shifted to the insured and the businesses that employ them, and poor people who need health care will be denied it. Lost too will be the 700 jobs the federal money is expected to create and the boost to the state’s economy that comes with a massive federal infusion of cash.

The federal government has pledged to pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid in the first three years, 93 to 95 percent for the next three, and at least 90 percent thereafter. If New Hampshire doesn’t take the money, insurance costs for everyone else will increase, its residents will pay to provide health care for most of the nation’s poor while denying care to their own state’s low-income residents. New Hampshire lawmakers would in effect be saying, “Sure, tax us and send nothing back. We’re the Donor State.”

Legacy Comments9

How does the NH Senate president justify voting down the gas tax increase to protect the poor at a cost of $15/yr (10,000 miles at 20 mpg) but then denies the poor medicaid residents health care that would cost $10,000 per year. Wouldn't the medicaid residents without health insurance have a net benefit? Bragdon would rather put it to Obama than help the medicaid residents.

Can any conservative readers tell me how it will help the state if we turn down the money and don't expand Medicaid? Remember - if the federal government renegs on it's end of the deal, the state can always opt out then, and stop participating in expanded medicaid.

FOF, This is another "look deeper than cover of the book" issue. Yes, the gov't labels this "free money" for medicaid but deeper you find a load of unfunded mandates. Would the gov't place the mandates and then not pay for them? That is exactly what happened in Maine. This is just like ObamaDare - too many just looked at the cover of the book and no deeper, helped by irresponsible democrats like pelosi with her "you get to know what's inside after you vote it". That act will go down in history as a dark stain on the democratic record. Back to topic, everyday another horrible issue surprise attack comes from the unexplored pages of the unaffordable care act. We need legislators who look deeper, Like Ayotte, who know what they are voting for. Responsible legislators don't just pass a "pig in a poke". (Does that southern metaphor make sense in NH?)

I wonder if any of the liberal readers can tell me from where all those unlimited Federal Funds originate? Is there a special Obama money tree along the banks of the Potomac?

I thought the point of the piece was clear. The money that will pay for the expansion comes from our taxpayers, along with the taxpayers from the other states. It's the taxes we pay to the federal government that come back to us in the states in the form of programs like Medicaid. Unfortunately, NH hasn't been very good at getting it's tax dollars back, compared to some Red states like Mississippi, who haul in close to twice what they pay in taxes (I say Red state, because they are staunchly Republican), although most of that money appears to go to the already rich in those states, rather than to help get most of their residents out of the abject poverty and misery in which they live. So this is a great chance to get some of our tax dollars back in a way that will be of great economic benefit to us all. You can have reality, or you can have your ideology, but you can't have both.

Obama ran up $7 TRILLION in debt in the last 4 years - Did we nor get a penny of that money?

Can you tell me where those unlimited funds originate to pay my elevated health care premiums resulting from the cost of the uninsured receiving care?

Tooky - we send it in and then tell the Feds - great, we don't want any money back - we want to donate it to other states. For every one dollar we get only 71 cents back. So the extra money goes to support other states. http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/united-states-federal-tax-dollars/

Sail - NH taxpayers send the money to the Feds. And then the Feds send some money to states. Here in NH for every dollar we send to the Feds, the state gets back 71 cents. In New Mexico and Mississippi - they get over $2 back for each dollar they send in. That's why the headline says "Just call us a donor state". Doesn't grow on Obama money tree, it comes from our pockets -just send the money in and then refuse it when it's being sent back - just send it along to all those poorer states to support their programs.

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