Letter: Expand Medicaid now
The Legislature came close to reaching an agreement on expanding Medicaid in November. While AARP applauds the efforts made to reach an agreement and the recognition that we need to do something, it is not enough to merely say something needs to be done.
For every day without a solution, New Hampshire loses nearly $1 million in federal funding that could provide affordable health care to low-income Granite Staters and reduce the need for expensive emergency room care.
Expanding Medicaid will help nearly 14,000 Granite Staters aged 45 to 64 who have lost their jobs or are in jobs without health benefits. Seventy percent are the poorest of the poor with yearly incomes under $12,000. Without expanded Medicaid, they will not be eligible for premium tax credits through the health insurance exchange, nor will they be able to afford insurance.
A study by AARP Public Policy Institute highlights the challenges faced by uninsured midlife adults and how access to expanded Medicaid could help:
∎ Chronic conditions increases in midlife, especially for individuals with low incomes;
∎ Mid-life uninsured adults with chronic illnesses are more likely to have worse clinical outcomes than the insured;
∎ Medicaid coverage could help them better manage chronic conditions, reduce costly emergency room visits and provide preventive care so when they become eligible for Medicare, they are not sicker and costlier.
∎ Access to Medicaid can also have an impact on the health of the midlife uninsured which can reduce the need for costly Medicaid-financed long-term care services.
AARP asks that the parties involved reach a New Hampshire solution that takes advantage of available funding to provide affordable health care to low-income Granite Staters. Expanding Medicaid will provide access to preventive care that can save lives. The time to expand Medicaid is now!
(The writer is volunteer state president of AARP New Hampshire.)