NHDP - ICYMI - Keene Sentinel Editorial: Expand Medicaid

Key Point: "A bipartisan panel was charged with exploring the issue and finding the best way forward for the state. A week ago, it made its recommendations, which include expanding Medicaid... Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who served on the panel, and Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, were quick to make it clear that despite the overwhelming vote on the panel to support the recommendations (a 6-2 original vote on the plan and a 9-0 vote to forward the 115-page report to the governor), the GOP-led Senate will continue to be an obstacle. If so, that’s a shame."


Keene Sentinel Editorial: Expand Medicaid

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The cost of health care is one of the biggest challenges in our society, and one we must meet.
As is often pointed out, excellent care is available in the United States — perhaps among the best in the world. But that care comes with an ever-increasing cost, and the ranks of those unable to afford it have been growing steadily for years.
 
The Affordable Care Act is an attempt to deal with a situation that has reached crisis stage. It’s not perfect, but it’s a move in the right direction. Expanding the availability of Medicaid — the federal/state partnership that provides medical coverage to the poorest Americans — is part of that plan. It ensures fewer Granite Staters will be lost in the shuffle as the health care delivery system and how we pay for it evolves.
Last spring, the Legislature examined and debated whether to accept the health care act’s measure for expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire. The House passed a plan to expand the system to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a move that would help insure an additional 58,000 or so of the state’s residents. The Senate balked, seeking assurance the state government won’t be left on the hook for the expanded costs of that move.

A bipartisan panel was charged with exploring the issue and finding the best way forward for the state.
A week ago, it made its recommendations, which include expanding Medicaid, but including a trigger that would back us out of that expansion should Congress not provide the promised federal funds to cover the cost. It also suggests those who could apply for Medicaid, but also have coverage available through their employer, be mandated to go with the private insurance.

These recommendations weren’t a surprise; the panel had taken a public vote on them a few weeks ago. Thus, when they were formally announced, politicians and interested parties on both sides had their arguments already lined up. Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who served on the panel, and Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, were quick to make it clear that despite the overwhelming vote on the panel to support the recommendations (a 6-2 original vote on the plan and a 9-0 vote to forward the 115-page report to the governor), the GOP-led Senate will continue to be an obstacle.
If so, that’s a shame. The cost issue the Senate has made its central talking point on the expansion should be a nonstarter. The health care act calls for the federal government to pay all the costs of increasing Medicaid coverage for three years, and 90 percent of the costs after that. Ideally, within that three-year period enough progress will have been made in overhauling the health care system that those 58,000 people won’t need to be on Medicaid. If not, that 10 percent the state would pay will be substantially offset by the reduced costs for uncompensated care and other services the state and local governments provide to those who are now uninsured.
Plus, the Affordable Care Act’s approach is more based on preventive measures than current practices, meaning overall health costs should decline over time. That’s the true goal of health care reform, and our Legislature ought to support it.