“This is a momentous day in New Hampshire,” said Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen after the New Hampshire Senate passed SB 413, the healthcare (Medicaid) expansion. “Today’s bipartisan vote for a Medicaid Expansion compromise in New Hampshire is a tremendous step forward for our state. Governor Hassan worked with leaders of both parties to reach a compromise that placed hard working Granite Staters ahead of partisan ideology,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.
Today vote almost ensures the passage of this ‘healthcare expansion’ with a Democratic majority in the House, and Governor Hassan chomping at the bit to sign it.
“Today’s Senate vote in support of SB 423 brings New Hampshire one step closer to providing affordable health insurance to thousands of low-income residents,” said Deb Fournier, policy analyst for the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.
“This is also an important boost for our economy and our state budget, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the New Hampshire economy and giving us the opportunity to save millions in the state budget,” added Fournier.
SB 413 creates a three-stage Health Protection Program to extend affordable health insurance to low income Granite Staters: the Health Insurance Premium Program, the Bridge to Marketplace Premium Assistance Program, and the Marketplace Premium Assistance Program. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the Health Protection Program, which will be repealed at the end of 2016 unless future legislatures vote to extend it.
(More information about how the new program works by the NHFPI, here)
This new healthcare expansion will help more than 50,000 hard working low-income Granite Staters acquire healthcare. This commonsense compromise is not only good health policy; it is good economic and fiscal policy too. Economists estimate that expansion will inject $2.5 billion into the New Hampshire economy, create new jobs, and save hard working Granite State taxpayers millions of dollars.
“With expansion, 50,000 Granite Staters will no longer have to fight cancer and bankruptcy at the same time. Instead they will have the economic security that only comes with health insurance coverage,” continued Buckley.
Senator Larsen worked with Senate President Morse to find a commonsense solution that helps the people of New Hampshire, while keeping costs in check.
“This is a momentous day in New Hampshire,” said Larsen. “This legislation will strengthen our state’s economy, prevent the sort of cost-shifting that drives up health care costs on businesses, and improves the lives of 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters. This is right thing to do for New Hampshire.”
“Our action on Senate Bill 413 shows the people of New Hampshire that we are committed to working together to solve our problems with common sense solutions. I thank the Senate President and Republican Majority Leader for working closely with us to pass this important bill,” continued Larsen.
Granite State Progress has been one of the many outspoken non-profit groups pushing for the expansion of Medicaid.
“We praise the Senate for its bipartisan vote to expand health coverage to 58,000 lower income Granite Staters who need it,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granit State Progress. “Democrats and Republicans worked together to make this program available. A small group of GOP State Senators like Andy Sanborn and John Reagan voted to leave money on the table instead of covering New Hampshire families because they kowtowed to special interests instead of representing their constituents.”
“Policymakers heard loud and clear from constituents, health policy experts, and consumer advocates that expanding Medicaid was a win-win for New Hampshire families, hospitals, community health centers, and our overall budget and economy,” continued Rice-Hawkins.
Labor unions like the State Employees Association have been behind the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act from the beginning. Beth D’Ovidio, spokeswoman for the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) released the following statement.
“Today, the NH Senate achieved a balance of caring for the well-being of NH families and maintaining fiscal prudence in passing SB413. We applaud them for their commitment to bringing access to affordable health care to all NH families and in so doing moving the state forward. Healthy families generate healthy and productive workers; healthy children who do better in school; and healthier seniors who will lead fuller and happier lives during their retirement years.
Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone was supposed to have a way to get affordable health insurance. People with low incomes would get low-cost or free health insurance so long as their state leaders accepted the federal funds set aside for this purpose. Today, I proudly thank our Senate for fulfilling this promise to all the hard-working people who make too little money to get discounted health insurance in the ACA Marketplace and too much to qualify for Medicaid under the current criteria. Accepting this federal funding is essential to provide them with access to low-cost insurance. It’s time to pull people out of the coverage gap.”
This is a big step for the NH Senate, showing that they can work through the partisanship and do what is best for Granite Staters. Will they be able to use this new found bipartisanship to push for a higher minimum wage? Only time will tell.