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NH Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion, Heads To Governor For Signature

In a truly bipartisan vote of 16-8, (10 Democrats and 6 Republicans) the New Hampshire Senate approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) through December 2018.

Governor Maggie Hassan applauded legislators from both parties and said she will sign the bill.

“Two years ago, we worked across party lines to pass the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which has made a real difference for our people, for our businesses and in our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “With its bipartisan vote today, the New Hampshire State Senate has taken another important step forward to build on that progress, joining the House of Representatives in its recognition of the importance of this critical program.”

“Thanks to our bipartisan healthcare expansion plan, nearly 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health insurance, reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto all of our people and businesses. I applaud legislators from both parties, the medical community, advocates and other stakeholders for their efforts to reauthorize our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and I look forward to signing this legislation into law so that we can continue this critical program that is strengthening the health and financial security of our people and boosting our economy,” concluded Hassan

“We applaud the Senate reauthorization of the NH Health Protection Program, which will ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Granite State Progress Education Fund Executive Director. “Families struggling in low wage jobs or caught between tough times don’t need health concerns to further hold them back. Being able to see a doctor when you are sick or access preventative care means less time away from work and better health in the long run. We are pleased that the Senate vote had strong bi-partisan support, despite a handful of politicians who chose to stand in the way of New Hampshire families.”

“The next step is to address the underlying reasons why so many Granite Staters are in need of this program. Raising wages, tackling outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and minorities, and empowering families to be able to take control of their reproductive health are all important pieces of the overall puzzle.,” added Rice-Hawkins.

NH Citizens Alliance Executive Director Kary Jencks added, “The biggest issue for reauthorization was the percentage of the total cost the State of New Hampshire was required to cover. Let’s pay our workers the worth of their jobs so that New Hampshire women and families don’t need these safety nets; saving our tax payer dollars and in turn allowing hardworking families greater financial security.”

Along with many other organizations, the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute has been very vocal in support of reauthorizing the NHHPP.

“New Hampshire has many fine traditions, but few can rival the bipartisanship and common-sense pragmatism that the Senate displayed today in reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Its vote today – in combination with earlier efforts by the House of Representatives — will ensure that more than 48,000 Granite Staters continue to have access to affordable health insurance for another two years.”

The NHHPP is specifically designed to provide healthcare to those who fall between the cracks in coverage. These are people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but make too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

“Health Protection Program enrollees include many individuals who work in low wage jobs that keep the state economy moving, but that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. The program provides thousands of hard-working Granite Staters with access to the care they need to stay healthy and able to provide for their families,” added McLynch.

“NHFPI looks forward to working with the members of the upcoming study commission to identify ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Health Protection Program still further and to ensure that it remains a vital element of New Hampshire’s efforts to promote health and economic security for years to come,” concluded McLynch.

State Senators who stood with New Hampshire women and their families include the entire Democratic caucus and six Republicans: Senate President Chuck Morse (R), Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R), Sen. Jerry Little (R), Sen. Nancy Stiles (R), Sen. David Boutin (R), Sen. Sam Cataldo (R), Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D), Sen. Molly Kelly (D), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D), Sen. David Pierce (D), Sen. Dan Feltes (D), Sen. Bette Lasky (D), Sen. Donna Soucy (D), and Sen David Watters (D).

State Senators who stood in the way of access to health care coverage for Granite State families are: Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R), Sen. Andy Sanborn (R), Sen. Gary Daniels (R), Sen. Kevin Avard (R), Sen. Sharon Carson (R), Sen. John Reagan (R), Sen. Regina Birdsell (R), and Sen. Russell Prescott (R).

“Jeanie Forrester’s vote to take away healthcare from nearly 50,000 Granite Staters is the latest example of her putting far-right ideology ahead of the lives of everyday people,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Just as shameful, in a time when our state is facing an opioid crisis, she voted to take away substance abuse services from 6,000 people receiving treatment. This disgraceful vote is a perfect example of the right-wing extremism spewing from the Republican candidates for governor.”

Forrester isn’t the first Republican candidate for governor to try to kill Medicaid expansion. In October 2013, Chris Sununu was the only member of the Executive Council to vote against endorsing Gov. Hassan’s call for a special session to consider the recommendations of a commission that endorsed Medicaid expansion. Then, in July 2014, Sununu was one of two councilors to vote against a $292 million contract that would allow Medicaid expansion to begin September 1, 2014. He touted these efforts as recently as last month.

 

Read also the statement from NH Senate Democrats. 

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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