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Granite State Rumblings: We Must Put NH Families First In The Senate Budget

The NH Senate has passed their state budget. This budget was passed down straight party lines. It is extremely disappointing to see where the priorities of our Republican Senators lie; tax cuts for businesses that will result in a large loss of revenues to the state that could have been put toward vital human services. Many Granite State children and their families continue to struggle with stagnant wages, the high cost of housing and child care, and inadequate nutrition. Putting corporations before people just doesn’t make sense.

A very important program that was not included in the budget was the reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) formerly known as Medicaid Expansion, which currently covers more than 40,000 low-income Granite Staters. The 2014 law authorizing the NHHPP required it to be reauthorized by April 2016. The reasoning for this was to ensure that the program would work and people would take advantage of it.

The good news is that it is working and it is exceeding expectations! The New Hampshire Hospital Association has reported that emergency room visits by uninsured patients are down by over 20 percent. The hospitals have also reported significant decreases in uncompensated care. On top of that the program is bringing in millions of dollars to the state.

Beginning in 2016, the NHHPP will move those covered into the commercial insurance market, meaning they will get their coverage through private managed care companies. The funds needed to ensure a smooth transition need to be in place.

Governor Maggie Hassan had this to say about reauthorization of the program, “Reauthorizing this bipartisan program beyond the end of 2016 is critical for the health of our people and our economy, as uncertainty about the continuation of the program could lead to rising rates for all consumers. Uncertainty about the program’s future could also cause insurers to decide not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017. We must work together to find a bipartisan path forward.”

If the NH Senate Republicans want to make New Hampshire a more attractive place for businesses then what could be better than having a health care program in place that will keep their workers healthy and productive? Draining needed revenues out of the state coffers to give to a majority of multi-national corporations is just wrong.

We urge you to call your state legislators and tell them, “Put Granite State children and their families first.”

NHcountystats

GROWING UP GRANITE

From our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute:

New Tax Cut Estimates Push Senate Budget Out of Balance

A new analysis from the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) finds that the business tax cuts included in the version of the FY 2016-2017 budget that the Senate will consider today would result in a more sizable and more rapid loss of revenue than previously anticipated.

The analysis also suggests that the lion’s share of the tax reduction would accrue to a relatively small number of corporations operating in New Hampshire.

The version of the budget approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week would reduce the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent by the end of 2019 and drop the rate of the business enterprise tax (BET) from 0.75 percent to 0.675 percent over the same span. Members of the Committee assumed that these phased-in reductions would not have any impact on state revenue collections in FY 2016, but would lower such collections by $14 million in FY 2017. However, in a letter to Governor Maggie Hassan on June 2, DRA Commissioner John Beardmore notes that, given the proposed effective dates for the rate reductions, there would, in fact, be an impact in FY 2016 – a loss of $3.8 million. This effect, as Commissioner Beardmore observes, “is the result of adjustments that are likely to occur with the first two business tax estimate payments for Tax Year 2016, which are due in FY16.” In the same letter, he estimates a FY17 revenue loss of $19.4 million arising from the reductions to the BPT and BET. In other words, with these latest estimates, the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the budget, in order to maintain balance and still reduce business tax rates, must either reduce spending by an additional $9 million over the course of FY 2016-2017 or carry forward another $9 million in surplus from FY15 into the next biennium, over and above the $34 million surplus on which it already relies.

Finally, data accompanying the Commissioner’s letter indicate that there were fewer than 700 business entities with either a BPT or a BET liability in excess of $1 million in tax year 2012. These entities, in turn, represent approximately 1 percent of all businesses filing tax returns that year. DRA estimates that roughly $13.8 million of the $23.1 million tax cut the Finance Committee’s budget would produce in FY2016-2017 would accrue to these very large taxpayers. In other words, these very large businesses would receive close to three out of every five dollars flowing out of the budget in tax cuts over the next two years.

Governor Hassan And Senate Democrats Expresses Serious Concerns About Senate Finance Budget

Senate Finance Plan Would Hurt NH Businesses and Middle Class Families, Relies on Gimmicks That Will Leave Budget Unbalanced

Hassan: “Any budget that relies exclusively on the votes of one political party will fail to meet the expectations of our citizens and the needs of our economy.”

BudgetCONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan said today that she has serious concerns that the Senate Finance Committee budget is unbalanced, contains misleading budget gimmicks and includes budget-busting tax cuts for big businesses that will hurt New Hampshire’s middle-class families, small businesses and economy.

“There are still several steps remaining in the budget process before a final bill makes its way to my desk, and I remain willing to roll up my sleeves and work toward a compromise, bipartisan budget that moves New Hampshire forward,” Governor Hassan said. “But I have serious concerns that the Senate Finance Committee’s partisan plan will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward while relying on gimmicks that will ultimately leave the budget unbalanced.”

“Senate Republican leadership says that New Hampshire can’t afford to lower tuition at the community colleges, provide a modest cost-of-living increase to employees, fix our roads, fund mental health or even adequately staff our correctional institutions or our juvenile justice system. They even say that in the midst of a heroin epidemic, New Hampshire can’t afford to adequately fund substance misuse prevention and treatment.

“But instead of funding those priorities, Senate Republican leadership included large tax cuts that will create a hole in this budget and budgets well into the future,” Governor Hassan continued.

“All session long, Senate Democrats have urged our Republican colleagues to put partisan politics aside and have a serious budget conversation about how we can work together under the Governor’s leadership to expand middle class opportunity, support small businesses, and keep our state’s economy moving in the right direction,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “Unfortunately, the budget approved by the Senate Republicans prioritizes special interests and tax giveaways for big, out-of-state businesses over the people of New Hampshire.”

“Instead of joining with us to invest in our shared priorities as we did in the last bipartisan budget, the Senate Republican budget undermines our economic future, sets the state on precarious financial footing, and is neither compassionate nor responsible. It uses fiscally irresponsible budget gimmicks that have been decried by members of both parties—which means that the Senate Republicans are once again promising more services than their budget can actually deliver,” Woodburn continued.

Governor Hassan also said she had serious concerns that the Senate Finance Committee did not reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, leaving the 40,158 New Hampshire citizens who had enrolled in the bipartisan program through May 26 in jeopardy of losing their health insurance in the second year of this budget. The program will receive a 95 percent federal match in 2017, but the legislature also did not include the money necessary to continue it.

“It is wrong to leave 40,000 people on the edge of losing their health insurance. The uncertainty is also bad for our health insurance market and our economy, and it could lead to rising rates for all consumers or insurers deciding not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017 – something that will hurt all of our citizens,” Governor Hassan said.

“The Senate Republican budget includes cuts to mental health, substance abuse treatment, public safety and higher education—all of which undermines our efforts to build a stronger economic future,” Sen. Woodburn continued. “Their budget also ends the state’s business-backed, bipartisan Medicaid expansion program, which means that 40,000 people will lose coverage and businesses will be forced to pay the ‘hidden tax’ that results from cost-shifting of uncompensated care. And instead of fixing these devastating cuts, Senate Republicans decided to give tax cuts to large, out-of-state corporations.”

Governor Hassan also raised concerns about the Senate Finance Committee’s use of budget gimmicks and back-of-the budget cuts, misleading people about what is actually funded.

“The Senate Finance Committee claims to have ‘restored’ $6.5 million in mental health funding, but then they turned around and told the Department of Health and Human Services to cut $6.5 million from mental health services,” Governor Hassan said. “The committee’s continued reliance on irresponsible budget gimmicks will put our state on perilous financial footing and undermine the legislature’s constitutional duty to balance the budget.”

Some of the budget gimmicks and the back of the budget cuts in the Senate Finance Budget include:

  • Assuming $34 million from Fiscal Year 2015 will be left over to carry forward into Fiscal Year 2016.  In making that calculation, the Senate Finance Committee is double counting $15 million in lapses; not counting $3 million in additional appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015 authorized by the Fiscal Committee or by state law; and counting the $7 million in savings from Health and Human Services 2015 back-of-the-budget cut even as they directed Health and Human Services to spend that $7 million.
  • Not accounting for the impact their business tax cuts will have on estimated payments and business tax revenues in Fiscal Year 2016.
  • Saying they are restoring $6.25 million in mental health funding, while at the same time directing the Department of Health and Human Services to cut $6.25 million in mental health funding.
  • Assuming $3.5 million reduction at the Sununu Youth Services Center in 2015 with no plan for how to achieve the savings.
  • Assuming unrealistic savings estimates in Health and Human Services, include a caseload drop of 2 percent; and $12.5 million in “savings” from additional managed care programs.
  • Increasing lapse estimates by $9 million.
  • Diverting funds from last year’s bipartisan transportation funding plan from road work to operations and assuming the Department of Transportation can balance its budget through a federal financing vehicle that has not yet been approved by the federal Department of Transportation.
  • Failing to fully fund winter maintenance for the Department of Transportation.
  • Directing the Department of Transportation to pay for the widening of Route 106 with operational funds, without identifying where they should cut to make those payments.

“Any budget that relies exclusively on the votes of one political party will fail to meet the expectations of our citizens and the needs of our economy. I urge the legislature to work across party lines to pass a bipartisan budget that is honest about what it chooses to fund and invests in the priorities that are critical to the success of our people, our businesses and our economy,” Governor Hassan said.

“This budget proposal is unacceptable and Senate Democrats will continue to fight for an honest and balanced budget that expands opportunity for all, supports businesses throughout our state, and lays the foundation for a new generation of economic growth. Senate Republicans must put aside their partisan ambitions and work across party lines with Senate Democrats and the Governor to finalize a budget that’s truly responsible for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy,” Woodburn concluded.

Kevin Avard Confronted, Admits He Just Doesn’t Like Medicaid Expansion

  When Pressed By A Voter, Avard Ducks and Condescends Before Finally Admitting He Just Opposes Expansion Because Of His Tea Party Ideology

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Kevin Avard (via Girard FLIKR CC)

Concord, N.H. – At a “Legislative Forum” in Nashua, a constituent pressed Kevin Avard repeatedly on why he supports repealing health care for the more than 38,000 Granite Staters already covered thanks to Medicaid expansion.

The constituent cited data from the New Hampshire Hospital Association showing that Medicaid expansion is working and uncompensated care is declining. Yet in the face of this data, Avard simply ducked and condescended before finally admitting that he just opposes expansion because of his Tea Party ideology.

Showing blatant disregard for the tens of thousands of Granite Staters who have already gotten covered by the program, Avard admitted, “I don’t like [Medicaid expansion]… I think it’s wrong, period. And in my view it’s socialism.”

Kevin Avard needs to listen to his own constituents and to the data that shows New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion plan is working,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Continuing New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid expansion plan is the right thing to do for our people, businesses, and economy, and voters will hold Avard accountable in November 2016 for putting his Tea Party ideology before the interests of New Hampshire.”

Click here for the full video.

NH Insurance Department: Residents Will Have Health Plan Choices in 2016

5 Health Insurance Companies, 4 Dental Carriers File to Offer Plans on Marketplace

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department announces that state residents will have a variety of health insurance options to choose from in 2016.

At the close of the April 15 deadline for filing 2016 plans, five health insurance companies had submitted applications to offer plans on New Hampshire’s federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace in 2016. Four companies had applied to offer stand-alone dental plans.

“For 2015, New Hampshire residents had a range of health insurance companies, plans, and provider networks to choose among,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “I’m pleased that in 2016, they’ll likely have just as many options, if not more. Choice is good for consumers and good for competition.”

Health insurance companies that submitted applications to offer plans through the 2016 Marketplace include: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England, Community Health Options, Minuteman Health, and Ambetter from NH Healthy Families, offered by Celtic Insurance.

While some health insurance plans will include dental coverage, New Hampshire residents also will be able to choose among a variety of distinct dental plans. Four companies will offer stand-alone dental plans on the Marketplace: Anthem, Delta Dental, Dentegra Insurance Company, and Guardian Life Insurance Company.

New Hampshire is a partnership state, which means that the state is responsible for reviewing plans proposed for sale on the federally facilitated New Hampshire Health Insurance Marketplace and deciding whether to recommend them for final approval by the federal government. Open enrollment for 2016 plans will start November 1, 2015.

In June, the Department will host public information sessions detailing the health care provider networks likely to be available to New Hampshire residents in 2016 through the various health insurance plans offered on the Marketplace.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

Governor Hassan’s Statement on House Budget Vote

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the budget vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives:

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse. Their wildly irresponsible budget includes drastic reductions to services that are critical to our people and businesses, further downshifting on local property taxpayers, the raiding of the dedicated Renewable Energy Fund, continued budget gimmicks that mislead people about what we actually are funding, and the depletion of our Rainy Day Fund, which threatens our state’s financial outlook and bond rating.

“We know that our people and businesses support strategic investments in critical priorities that help ensure a strong and healthy workforce pipeline, a modern transportation infrastructure, and safe communities, but this harmful plan makes significant reductions to higher education, aid to local communities, road and bridge projects across the state, and critical services for seniors, substance misuse, mental health, and people who experience developmental disabilities. And by ending our bipartisan health care expansion program, the House Republican budget would eliminate health coverage for more than 37,000 hard-working Granite Staters.

“Not only would these reductions downshift responsibility to local property taxpayers, but they have a significant impact on our people, businesses and economic future, affecting areas that are critical to the health and well-being of our people and our economic competitiveness. They would make higher education more expensive, threaten to shut down local road and bridge projects, place an additional strain on our corrections officers, and harm the health and well-being of our families and workforce.

“It is still early in the process of finalizing a fiscally responsible, balanced budget, and I urge the Senate to take a different approach and recognize that we must work across party lines to pass a responsible budget that supports the priorities that matter to our people, businesses and economy. Senate Republicans cannot follow the path of their House counterparts and simply cater to the most extreme members of their party at the expense of common-sense and fiscal responsibility. The families, businesses and hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better than that.

“Two years ago, we worked together to pass the most bipartisan budget in more than a decade, and we must build on that progress by doing the responsible thing and making a bipartisan investment in the success of our people, our businesses and our economy.”

Kuster Statement on Passage of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Actof 2015, which would end the threat of harmful cuts to Medicare reimbursements and prevent millions of children from losing access to health insurance:

 

“Since taking office, I’ve made fighting to protect Medicare one of my top priorities. Today, I was proud to join an overwhelming majority of members from both sides of the aisle in passing legislation to replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula – which threatened to prevent many Granite State seniors from continuing to see their own doctors – with a new model that protects access to care for our seniors, ensures cost-savings, and most importantly, helps support the sustainability of Medicare for generations to come. 

 

“This bill also included important measures to protect the Granite State’s most vulnerable: it will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and prevent millions of children from losing access to health care, expand funding for Community Health Centers (CHC), and protect vital assistance for low-income seniors.

 

“This is not a perfect bill, and I will continue to fight for a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But this legislation will help protect access to medical care for older Americans and shore up Medicare for future generations, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to improve this bill and see it signed into law.”

After 5 Years Data Shows The ACA Is Working For Granite State Families

On 5th Anniversary of Affordable Care Act, Landmark Health Law is Covering More Families, Lowering Health Care Costs

CONCORD, NH – Today marks the fifth anniversary of the landmark health care law, the Affordable Care Act – otherwise known as Obamacare. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“The Affordable Care Act has provided New Hampshire families and small businesses with the security and stability they need in health care coverage. More than 53,000 Granite State consumers have enrolled for private health care coverage through the ACA marketplace, and an additional 37,000 of our neighbors have signed up for expanded Medicaid and can now access preventive care instead of relying on emergency rooms which drives up health costs for everyone. The ACA, or Obamacare as it is known to some, is achieving its goal of providing quality, affordable health care coverage to more Americans and bending the health care cost curve that was previously wildly out of control.”

According to HHS, 70 percent of New Hampshire consumers who signed up on the marketplace qualified for an average tax credit of $244 per month. Reporters can access more information on the impact of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire here. HHS also announced that the ACA has reduced hospital uncompensated care costs across the country by an estimated $7.4 billion in 2014. A report detailing the economic impact of Medicaid expansion and the overall accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act over the past five years are available on the HHS website.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement on the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:
 

“Five years after the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it’s clear that the ACA is working here in New Hampshire.”

“To date, over 53,000 Granite Staters have enrolled in private coverage on New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace, not to mention the 37,000 Granite Staters and counting who have gotten covered through New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion plan.”

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, New Hampshire’s workforce is healthier and stronger and we’re already seeing a decline in the costs of uncompensated care, saving money for individuals and businesses.”  

“It is unconscionable that five years later, Kelly Ayotte and Frank Guinta are still fighting to take away health coverage from tens of thousands of Granite Staters and repeal critical new consumer protections that are not only saving money, but also saving lives. In 2016, voters across New Hampshire will hold them accountable for their backwards health care policies and elect Democrats who will fight for middle class families and small businesses.”

NH Health Protection Program Is Working For NH Hospitals

Statement from Governor Hassan on New Hampshire Hospital Association Report on New Hampshire Health Protection Program

 

 

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the report from the New Hampshire Hospital Association demonstrating that hospitals have seen a reduction in inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits from uninsured Granite Staters since the New Hampshire Health Protection Program was adopted:

 

“The reduction in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits by uninsured Granite Staters demonstrated in the New Hampshire Hospital Association report is another strong indication of the positive impact that our bipartisan health care expansion plan is having on our people and our economy. Because of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, we are reducing uncompensated care costs and health care cost-shifting onto our families and businesses, insurance premium tax revenues are increasing, and more than 36,000 hard-working men and women now have the peace of mind and health and financial security that comes with quality, affordable health coverage. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is strengthening the health of our workforce and boosting our economy, and I look forward to working with the legislature to maintain our commitment to our people, businesses, and the future of our economy through our bipartisan health care expansion plan.”

 

The full report from the New Hampshire Hospital Association can be found here.

 

 

Granite State Rumblings: Protecting Children’s Healthcare Programs Both State and Federal

DA-ST-86-05880

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, is often hailed as a model of a successful children’s health care program. It covers 8 million children who are not eligible for Medicaid and whose families cannot afford private insurance. In fact, research has found that since the program’s launch in 1997, the uninsured rate among U.S. children has fallen by half, from 14 percent in 1997 to 7 percent in 2012. ~ Source: The American Public Health Association

From its inception CHIP has enjoyed a large measure of bipartisan support. After all, who wouldn’t support insuring kids? As part of the Affordable Care Act, CHIP was authorized through 2019, though its funding was only extended through 2015. While federal legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would extend CHIP funding for an additional four years, given the state of national politics, its reauthorization this year has advocates and state governors worried.

Like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is funded jointly by the states and the federal government. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP insures children from families with higher income levels and comes with a significantly better federal matching rate. On average, the federal government pays 57 percent of the costs for Medicaid but 70 percent of the costs for CHIP.

How each state would be affected if CHIP is not renewed varies, since each state runs its program differently. Some states keep their CHIP programs wholly separate from Medicaid; other states have simply expanded Medicaid to encompass CHIP; still others operate a combination of the two depending on income levels.

The eight states that cover all CHIP recipients through Medicaid would see their federal assistance drop to Medicaid levels, costing them about $1 billion collectively, according to Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. Those states, which are politically diverse and include California, Maryland, South Carolina and New Hampshire, would be required to continue covering CHIP recipients because they’re a part of Medicaid, which is an unlimited entitlement program, not a limited block grant like CHIP.

The 14 states that operate totally separate programs, however, wouldn’t even have the benefit of funding reduced to Medicaid levels. Those states would have to pay the entire cost of the program, which would mean upwards of $5 billion. Since their programs are separate, these states are also not under obligation to continue covering CHIP recipients. For the remaining states, the budget implications vary wildly.

With federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program set to expire in September, children’s health advocates are calling on policymakers to take action on behalf of the millions of children at risk of losing access to affordable and comprehensive care. ~ Sources: Governing the States and Localities, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, First Focus.

GROWING UP GRANITE

The House Finance Committee has scheduled three public hearings on HB1 and HB2. These hearings provide an important opportunity for all Granite Staters to express the priorities, programs and services that they believe the state should be addressing and funding. Please turn out and offer your testimony to the members of the House Finance Committee. Taking two to three minutes to share your personal stories about the programs and services that support you and your family, that keep your children safe and healthy, that protect your aging parents, and help keep your community strong and vital are critical to help ensure that all Granite Staters have the same opportunities.

The first meeting will be held in Concord this Thursday, March 5th in Rep’s Hall from 4-7 p.m.

The second and third meetings will be held concurrently in Conway and Derry on Monday, March 9, from 5-8 p.m.

  • The Conway hearing will be held in the Kennet High School Auditorium, 409 Eagles Way, North Conway.
  • The Derry meeting will be held at Derry Town Hall, 14 Manning Street, Derry.

If you are unable to attend one of the hearings, then please consider sending your story to the committee via e-mail at: HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

Here’s an editorial from the Concord Monitor that shows very clearly why your voice is needed at one of the Finance Committee hearings. New Hampshire cannot afford to leave federal funds on the table.

Editorial: Hold placed on federal grants is shortsighted
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Last week, the directors and staff of one agency after another, in a semblance of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, cupped their faces in their hands and moaned, “Oh no, we’re Kurked.” And if the fiscally conservative chairman of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee gets his way, thousands of low-income adults only recently insured under the state’s expanded Medicaid program will follow suit.

For the first time in memory, under Neal Kurk’s leadership, the fiscal committee placed a hold on millions of dollars in hard-won federal grants. The decision will delay some awards, and depending on the committee’s decision, potentially result in a decision not to accept some federal largesse. The number of holds is unprecedented and shortsighted.

State agencies and employees, hoping to meet needs they fear won’t get funded any other way, put a lot of effort into writing grants and securing outside funding. If they succeed only to learn that the committee, or down the line the Executive Council, declines to accept the money, willingness to go the extra mile to find outside money will wane. New Hampshire, which at about 71 cents on the dollar already gets back less of its federal tax payments in federal spending than almost every other state, will become even more the donor state.

Kurk believes the decision to accept federal funds should be made not grant by grant but in the context of the state’s budget process. But New Hampshire is one of a minority of states that still uses a biennial budget. That could lead to inordinate delays in decision-making and the provision of the services the grants were meant to meet.

What Republicans who agree with Kurk really fear is a stampede of agency-accepted Trojan horses, gifts that could commit the state to additional spending. As Senate President Chuck Morse told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris, taking free money to buy a fire truck is one thing, but who will pay to staff it, fuel it and insure it?

Meanwhile, for want of a fire truck, the barn is lost.

The committee is holding up money that would pay to collect information on violent deaths in the state and, at a time when opioid drug use and overdose deaths are epidemic, an investigator for the state’s drug task force. Other grants on hold were awarded to promote child safety, improve mental health services and help schools develop emergency plans.

Whatever the ultimate fate of the grants, the committee’s hold on them will do less harm than a goal its Republican members hope to achieve: a refusal by the majority party to reauthorize the state’s decision to expand Medicaid to serve low-income adults who aren’t disabled, even though the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the tab.

That decision would cancel coverage for more than 20,000 newly insured residents and make it far harder for them to get non-emergency and preventive health care. That, in our view, is misguided to the point of being immoral. Virtually every other advanced nation considers access to health care a right, not a societal luxury.

The Republican goal, if met, will also mean the loss of more than $300 million per year in federal funds, assuming even more of those eligible sign up under expanded Medicaid. That’s money that won’t be providing health care for low-income New Hampshire residents and good-paying jobs for the people who provide their care.

Looking a gift horse in the mouth and saying “No” is one thing. Hay, after all, can get expensive.

But it’s quite another if that “No” means plowing less land and going hungry or freezing to death on the long walk to the doctor’s office.

Five Companies Compete On The NH Healthcare Exchange

NH Insurance Department Issues Updated List of Health Care Provider Networks
2015 Marketplace to Feature 5 Insurance Companies and a Range of Networks, Plans

Concord, NH ­– The New Hampshire Insurance Department has updated its listing of health care provider networks that will be available through 2015 insurance plans sold on the federally facilitated New Hampshire Health Insurance Marketplace.

The updated network information details the service area of each network as well as the participating hospitals. It also includes a list of Essential Community Providers (ECPs) in each network: The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies offering plans on the Marketplace to include in their networks “a sufficient number and geographic distribution of providers that serve predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals.”

Five insurance companies will offer 2015 plans to New Hampshire residents through the Marketplace in New Hampshire: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Assurant Health (Time); Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Maine Community Health Options; and Minuteman Health.

“New Hampshire residents will have a variety of networks and plan designs to choose from when they visit HealthCare.gov beginning November 15,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We are pleased that residents will have such a range of choices, and we encourage each consumer to look closely at the options and choose a plan that meets his or her unique needs. Help is available at no cost in the form of in-person assisters and insurance agents and brokers.”

 New Hampshire residents who would like assistance may visit CoveringNewHampshire.org/get-help to view a list of the free help available: in the form of federally funded “in-person assisters,” who are trained to aid residents in navigating the HealthCare.gov website, and from those insurance agents and brokers in New Hampshire (also known as producers) who are licensed by the Insurance Department to sell insurance and who also have been certified by the federal government to assist Marketplace users.

The network information is available on the Insurance Department website: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/legal/documents/pres_updated_network10.28.14.pdf.

People who wish to determine whether a particular doctor is included in any health care provider network should visit the insurance company’s website to view a more detailed list. New Hampshire residents are encouraged to contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services division at (603) 271-2261 with any questions.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

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